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Inside an audition for 'America's Got Talent'

"America's Got Talent" auditions at Pasadena Convention Center

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Fame? Exposure? A million dollars? Why do people want to be on the NBC reality series, "America's Got Talent"? 

The show holds open auditions in cities all over the country. Whoever aces the audition has a chance to make it to the actual show. On a recent Saturday at the Pasadena Convention Center, thousands of people gathered their guitars and gorilla suits in hopes of being chosen.

On the audition website, "America's Got Talent"  judge and creator Simon Cowell has four tips for hopeful contestants: 

1. Be original.

2. Don’t be boring.

3. Stand out from the crowd.

4. Be fearless.

Here are just a handful of some people in Pasadena who were hoping to get on the show.


"Well, I kind of have stage fright and I get really nervous, which is kind of, like, weird, you know, because I’m here at 'America's Got Talent'," said 16-year-old Andrea Alonso. "I mean, I think I’ll do well. Just get past the nerves."

Inside the convention hall, it’s clear everyone here has an act. Get Down District is a team of young dancers from Rosemead, California. Their dance specialty is "waacking." Andrew Wheeler is an elementary school librarian from Midway City. As a "gorilla-gician," he performs magic tricks while wearing a gorilla suit.

"It’s my dream to be the first 'gorilla-gician' to ever make it in the human world," Andrew Wheeler said.

"It’s my dream to be the first 'gorilla-gician' to ever make it in the human world," Wheeler said.

There are also lots of singers, many of whom are young girls. Past winners include Grace Vanderwaal, who won at age 12, and Darci Lynne Farmer, who won at age 11. Brooklyn Bradford is 14 and hopes to join their ranks. She’s born and raised in Pasadena.

Brooklyn Bradford at
Brooklyn Bradford at "America's Got Talent" auditions in Pasadena

"Singing has been something I’ve wanted to do my whole life," Bradford said. "Everybody has a background story. And this could be part of mine because, whether I win or I lose, this would be a good place to start."

Brooklyn's father Derrick Bradford, says she watches "America's Got Talent" non-stop and has always wanted to audition.

"I think she’s ready to go out here and give it her best," Bradford said. "This is my daughter, I love her to death."

Brooklyn said she wants to heal people with her music and she’s motivated by a near-death experience. She once got a concussion while playing with a friend in a pool.  She could have drowned if a stranger hadn’t saved her. The moment changed her life.

"That whole situation just kind of helped me to see, like, any moment can be your last," she said. "So I think that it’s really important that I take every chance that I get and I do my best at every opportunity that I have."

Everyone at the audition had a story. And these stories come from all over the country. Andrea Alonso drove with her whole family for 12 hours from Idaho Falls, Idaho.

"I’m with my mom and my dad, and my little sister, my older sister, my brother-in-law, and my nephew. They’ve always supported me in everything I do," Alonso said. "Maybe one day, I just want to sing in front of a big crowd."

Brenda Calhoun, or G-Ma, the rapping grandma, is here for the fame.
Brenda Calhoun, or G-Ma, the rapping grandma, is here for the fame. "If I can get on one show on TV," Calhoun said. "Exposure."

Brenda Calhoun, or G-Ma, the rapping grandma, was there for the fame. "If I can get on one show on TV," Calhoun said. "Exposure."

Bugle musician Tim Park at
Bugle musician Tim Park at "America's Got Talent" auditions in Pasadena. 2018


And bugle musician Tim Park said he was there for "the opportunity to possibly win a million dollars."

But before anyone can realize their hopes, dreams, fame, and fortune, they’re going to have to wait. Hopeful performers waited for hours before they got their chance in front of an "America's Got Talent" producer. Then they had all of 90 seconds to strut their stuff.

After her audition, Brooklyn Bradford was confident in her performance.

"I feel like I did a good job," she said. "After I had finished singing, I went to go sit down [and] everybody was clapping. And people were telling me I did really good."

Her father agreed.

"I'm a little biased but I don’t think they could deny it. She went in there and did her thing," he said. "She has talent!" 

Brooklyn and the other performers won’t know if they make it to the next round for at least a few weeks. So for now, she and her dad headed home where they’ll wait some more. Whether or not she gets called back, she said she’ll keep singing.

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