Wilton gymnast Brianna Shiue is featured in a commercial with Olympic Gymnast Aly Raisman (composite from Olay Commercial stills)

When Brianna’s mother Vivian Lee-Schiue saw an open casting call in the Working Moms of Wilton Facebook group looking for real gymnasts, not actors, of all ages and abilities, she was hesitant to apply. However, the application itself was brief, asking for competition videos and basic questions about Brianna’s gymnastics experience.

“We submitted it and we didn’t think anything of it,” said Vivian.

Eventually, they received an email back that Brianna had been shortlisted and was invited to a virtual audition with the commercial’s directors, producers, and clients. Brianna performed acrobatic and dance moves on Zoom in her living room, a much smaller space than the gymnasium mats she was used to.

Weeks passed and eventually, Brianna and Vivian received the call that she had been cast in the commercial and was to travel to New York City for a wardrobe fitting. It was only then that Brianna found out that Raisman would also be featured in the video.

“She’s inspiring because she’s one of the best gymnasts in the world,” Brianna said about Raisman. “I really look up to her.”

Although the producers indicated there was a chance for the young gymnasts to meet Raisman, a scheduling conflict prevented this from happening.

However, Brianna did make friends with the other young gymnasts in the video when they filmed on set in New Jersey.

Brianna and Vivian first saw the commercial online only about one week before it aired. Although they were not told exactly when the commercial would be broadcast, mother and daughter kept an eye on the television on Tuesday, July 27 when the Women’s Gymnastics Team Final took place.

At the end of the event, the ad finally played on television for the first time. When asked what it was like to see herself on screen. Brianna laughed and said, “It was weird.”

YouTube video

Life Lessons From Gymnastics

At 10 years old, Brianna’s gymnastics success has only just begun as a gymnast practicing and competing through the Wilton Family YMCA Gymnastics program. In 2020, she qualified for the YMCA’s Gymnastics Nationals at Level 3, but the entire event was canceled due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

She practiced all year, waiting for COVID restrictions to ease so she could showcase her talent and hard work at a competition. Finally, at both the YMCA 2021 Gymnastics Meet and the Nutmeg State Games Brianna won first place for Level 4 and helped her Wilton YMCA Gymnastics team place second overall. 

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While winning is certainly a bonus, Vivian said the lessons and skills her daughter learns from gymnastics are more important.

“The most important part of Brianna’s gymnastics experience is that she learns the life skill of being disciplined and focused to achieve her personal goals, and of the importance of being a member of a larger team even if her performance is individual,” Vivian said.

Vivian is also keeping things in perspective for her daughter. “While Brianna would love to go collegiate and, of course, every kid dreams of the Olympics, I am fully aware of the reality that it takes a lot of hard work and skill to get there, and I am not one of those parents that thinks that my kid is the next Olympic or collegiate star. I really just want Brianna to have fun.”

Of course, Brianna watched the Olympics not just for her own star turn but for the competition as well. She was philosophical about Simone Biles‘s choice to withdraw from the games.

“I was a little disappointed that I didn’t get to see her compete but it was so that she didn’t get hurt because she just wasn’t feeling that great during competition,” Brianna said.

Vivian understood the lesson her daughter was able to see play out in real-time.

“[Brianna’s] coaches and I have all had the conversation about how important it is to speak up when you’re not feeling well. That was a good lesson for the kids, that it’s really important that you’re open with your coaches and the adults in gymnastics. From my perspective, it was great because it teaches them that even the best of the best have bad days,” Vivian added.