Maddy Manning-Bi, ‘22, is a girl in a hurry. A sopranist, cellist, pianist, violinist, and dancer, she’s also a peer tutor, teaching assistant, and a student ambassador at the OHS. She co-leads the OHS Salon and is the leader of the Culture, History, and Civics Club. With regard to writing, she is the culture editor of the Pixel Journal, the copy editor for the Literary Journal, and an official editor with NGO Dear Asian Youth. In her free time, she teaches voice lessons and tutors math. However, this collection of academic and extracurricular interests does not fully describe her. Connor Espenshade, who counts Maddy among his closest friends, says, “Her humor and kindness are boundless. She is absolutely brilliant yet approachable.”
Since Maddy does so many extra-curricular activities, she’s learned a few tips on balancing school work. “I try to be super organized and get things done efficiently,” says Maddy. “I try to utilize time well: outside of class I am either finishing homework or practicing instruments. I am usually half a week ahead of homework.”
Maddy’s spoken word poem during the Talent Show is a piece of art. When asked how she began writing, she says, “I always loved writing. So, in second grade, I started writing short pieces. The more I read, the more I started to know what style I liked to write in and what I wanted to write about.” Maddy used to write only novel chapters and fiction stories, but recently, has begun to branch out in her writing styles. Until a few years back, Maddy didn’t like academic writing, but after taking the course AP English Language and Composition, she started enjoying writing academic essays too. Poetry writing was once really rough for Maddy until she went to a camp at Duke University and began writing poetry. And one year ago, Maddy discovered screenplay writing and has since completed one full screenplay. Ilana Nguyen, a close friend of Maddy’s, affirms Maddy’s artistic growth when she says, “Maddy has certainly grown strong in her art and in her own identity, the latter of which manifests itself powerfully in her writing.”
Maddy enjoys writing about people around her who have had interesting things happen to them. She also likes to write about people close to her such as her family and friends. “I would also like to explore writing about things that make you mad, toxic masculinity, race (especially because I am bi-racial), and romantic poetry,” says Maddy. When a topic occurs to Maddy, she writes it down in a Word document. These Word documents assure her that she is not completely without ideas when she feels she has none. Maddy’s only and biggest challenge while writing is developing a character.
A literary salon of Maddy’s dreams would consist of authors from across centuries. She would like to meet Harper Lee, author of To Kill a Mockingbird, and Khaled Hosseini, author of The Kite Runner and A Thousand Splendid Suns. A few other authors she’d like to meet are Emily Dickinson, William Shakespeare, Maya Angelou, and Marie Lu which she recognizes as a bit of a challenge because the first three on the list have passed away. Screenwriters Greta Gerwig and Tony Cushner, who inspired her to write screenplays, would complete her dream salon.
Her biggest writing advice to people who are starting out is to reach out to friends and watch videos to get feedback and improve your writing style. But, most importantly, she says, “Have fun!!”