Dear America’s Got Talent: We’ve been duped.
Dear America’s Got Talent,
I’m feeling duped.
I love your show. I really do. Seeing ordinary people who lead ordinary lives sharing talents that amaze us and stories that inspire us makes us believe that anything is possible.
When we’re able to watch someone who has overcome the most difficult of circumstances, or who finds a glimmer of hope while weathering a storm, or who makes us all believe that anything can happen if you just believe, those moments inspire all of us to dream and to be better people.
Like so many, I watched in amazement when a young, soft spoken, seemingly timid girl named Courtney Hadwin took the stage.
We were all rooting for Courtney, especially since she had shared that she secretly feared the Red X of disapproval by the judges.
When the music started, we watched as she transformed into a larger than life personality.
It was as if right before our eyes, Janis Joplin had jumped inside Courtney’s body and began to sing, to dance and to blow our minds.
The performance was so stunning, in fact, that judge Howie Mandel hit the coveted Golden Buzzer, ensuring that young Courtney was fast tracked straight to the live shows. And it became the AGT video that quickly went viral, pretty much leaving all of the contestants who had preceded her in the rear view mirror.
But there was only one problem: it was, in part, a grand illusion.
We bought into the story of this painfully shy child, presumably an undiscovered talent, who feared rejection and applauded her instantaneous conversion into a superstar. However, as it turns out, this was not her first rodeo.
A quick perusal of YouTube brought forth a plethora of videos featuring young Courtney singing at festivals and on television talent competitions including Teen Star and Live & Loud, and even making it to the finals of The Voice Kids UK. She appeared confident, outgoing and anything but timid.
It was one of those “wizard behind the curtains” moments.
It appears Courtney is not a shy newcomer. She’s a seasoned entertainer whose performances have been celebrated, and rightfully so, by numerous audiences on both sides of the big pond. There’s no denying her talent.
We’ve been duped.
With this revelation, the story lost its authenticity. And, as a result, AGT lost its credibility.
And that’s a disservice not only to young Courtney, but to all of the performers who grace your stage with the same hopes and dreams and promises of their own opportunities to shine.
Keep it real, AGT. Let the talent speak for itself.
Without smoke and mirrors, without pulling heartstrings that break when the truth comes out.
Courtney Hadwin is, indeed a star. She didn’t need unnecessary embellishment to shine.