• Sophie Fatu became a viral star after her “America’s Got Talent” audition in 2018
• She has over 100,000 Instagram followers and covers of her songs have been viewed over 100 million times
• She has had minor roles on “The Kids Are Alright”, “Will & Grace”, and “Hacks”
• Terry Fator and Shin Lim have both achieved success after appearing on “America’s Got Talent”
• The show has faced controversy with claims of racism and sexism from former judge Gabrielle Union and allegations of verbal abuse and physical manipulation of a contestant’s young daughter from former host Tyra Banks
About Sophie Fatu
The child singer Sophie Fatu was born in November 2012 and became one of the youngest talents in the world to go viral following her “America’s Got Talent”, “AGT” audition, which aired in 2018. Sophie’s YouTube channel currently has over 450,000 subscribers, whereas her cover of “Fly Me to the Moon” has been viewed over 100 million times.
Sophie, who also models and has worked with Kardashian Kids and ModerneChild amongst other well-known brands, stunned the judges of “AGT” with her powerful version of Frank Sinatra’s “My Way”, and was soon dubbed the cutest reality show contestant in history. Unfortunately, she was eliminated in the Judge Cuts section of the show, as the judges felt that she was too young for such a stressful competition. Prior to appearing in “AGT”, Sophie also charmed the audience of “Little Big Shots”, a more age-appropriate talent show aimed at children.
With an IMDb page advertising her as “one of the youngest jazz recording artists in history”, Sophie has an undoubtedly bright future ahead of her. The precocious prodigy, who made history as the youngest-ever contestant on “AGT”, also boasts the title of being the youngest-ever jazz artist to record an album at Los Angeles’s Capitol Records studio.
So what became of Sophie after being eliminated from “AGT”? Shortly after her musical aspirations were temporarily put to an end, Sophie transitioned into acting. Since then, she’s had a handful of minor roles in shows such as “The Kids Are Alright”, “Will & Grace”, and “Hacks”, mostly guest-appearing in one episode. The youngster was also invited to perform on “The Ellen DeGeneres Show”.
Sophie currently has over 100,000 Instagram followers, and regularly posts photos of her family or at photoshoots. Her parents, Brandon and Victoria, are particularly devoted to their daughter’s career and have even started a family YouTube channel where they upload sneak peeks of their daily comings and goings.
Brandon is a fitness expert with over two decades of experience and the founder of CorrectiveX, which provides customers a plethora of services such as personalized programs, pain management, remote training, and corrective exercise regimes. Brandon is also believed to have another son from a previous relationship. As for Victoria, it’s clear to see who Sophie inherited her musical skills from, as the glamorous redhead is an award-winning concert pianist and talented musician.
2022 was a big year for Sophie’s career, as she made her big-screen debut with a small role in “Last Looks”. After enjoying the holiday season with her nearest and dearest, Sophie has yet to announce upcoming projects as of January 2023.
“America’s Got Talent”
Produced by Syco Entertainment and Fremantle USA, “AGT” forms part of Simon Cowell’s global “Got Talent” franchise. The series premiered in June 2006 on NBC; judges, current and former, include household names such as Sharon Osbourne, Sofia Vergara and David Hasselhoff, all of whom have all excelled in their respective industries.
Magic performances, singing, dancing and comedy skits are the most common acts seen on the show. However, there have been some truly unforgettable novelty acts on “AGT” over the years; who can forget the infamous professional regurgitator who beat the odds and reached the semifinals stage of the competition? Although not all of them become famous, the winners of the show are given an attractive cash prize, and their own headline show on the Las Vegas Strip.
“AGT” averages 10 million viewers per season and has birthed spin-off shows including “AGT: Extreme” and “AGT: The Champions”. In 2013, a book entitled “Inside AGT: The Untold Stories of America’s Got Talent” was published, containing insider knowledge and interviews with contestants.
That’s not to say that “AGT” hasn’t seen its fair share of controversy. Gabrielle Union, the A-list actress and wife of basketball legend Dwayne Wayde, alleged to having suffered racism and sexism on the set of the show. Gabrielle was an “AGT” judge for just one season, and was reportedly fired after speaking up about the toxic work environment, which led to her filing a discrimination complaint with the Californian Department of Fair Employment and Housing.
Mere months after the lawsuit was filed, NBC and Gabrielle settled the case out of court in late 2020. As Gabrielle claimed to have been threatened by a former executive of the network, many believe that NBC paid a handsome sum of money to avoid the ugly details coming out and being reported on. It has been alleged that Gabrielle was branded “difficult” after complaining about Simon smoking indoors, and that her hairstyles were criticized for being too ethnic.
It’s interesting to note that, although NBC settled the case, an independent investigation failed to find proof of Gabrielle’s claims. Due to racial tensions in America at the time, which were caused by the tragic death of police brutality victim George Floyd, the network obviously preferred to play it safe and avoid negative publicity.
In 2017, supermodel Tyra Banks was accused of verbally abusing and physically manipulating a female contestant’s young daughter. The contestant – who was referred to in court documents as Jane Doe, as she preferred not to be identified by name – filed an 18-page lawsuit against the show’s production company.
According to Jane, Tyra ridiculed her and her husband’s performance of a song they had written about their daughter, who is identified in the lawsuit as Mary Doe. The lawsuit states that Mary became deeply depressed and traumatized due to Tyra’s “abusive treatment” and the negative experience of being on the show.
It remains unclear whether Jane’s case reached court or was settled; as her and her husband’s performance didn’t make it to the final cut, the lawsuit sparked little to no public interest, and was soon forgotten about. Tyra was eventually replaced as host in 2019; shortly afterwards, she began going viral for several unflattering clips of her time on “America’s Next Top Model”, and was accused of racism for allowing contestants of said show to wear blackface.
Once again, AGT was sued in March 2018 when the family of Maureen Allen filed a 20-page complaint. According to Maureen’s family, she fell from her wheelchair outside the Pasadena Civic Auditorium – where the show was being filmed – and sustained grave injuries which resulted in multiple operations and hospitalizations.
On the day of the fall, Maureen and her husband were volunteering at a sponsored science and engineering fair which was held at the auditorium. When they tried to enter the venue, they discovered that there were no available access points for disabled people, as all but one were blocked by the show’s filming equipment and trailers. The lawsuit claims that a large power cord protector obstructed the path of travel to enter via said access point.
While maneuvering her wheelchair over the power cord protector, Maureen suffered head and arm injuries and a broken hip. After the incident, she suffered from a stroke and blood clots and had to be operated on eight times. In June 2017, she was placed on life support but passed away after a few days. The outcome of the lawsuit remains to be confirmed.
The best talent. The world’s BIGGEST stage. 🤩Champions take the spotlight this January.
Although many hopefuls walk away disappointed from “AGT”, the show has also launched some of America’s greatest success stories in the entertainment industries. The ventriloquist Terry Fator, for example, auditioned in the show’s second season and won – which led to him signing a multi-million dollar contract to headline shows in Las Vegas.
Terry is believed to have been born in the mid-1960s, in Dallas, Texas. The future star obtained a college degree from Virginia’s Liberty University, but his passion always lay in ventriloquism, a hobby that he took up while in fifth grade. He was inspired to do so after stumbling upon a book on the subject entitled “Ventriloquism for Fun and Profit”, by Paul Winchell. A few weeks later, having read the book, Terry bought a Willie Talk dummy, and won $25 for his first ventriloquism performance at a church picnic.
Throughout his childhood, Terry would entertain family and friends with his ventriloquism acts and impersonations of celebrities. His mother saved up for three years to buy him his first puppet as an 18th birthday gift, and the rest, as they say, is history.
In 1987, Terry began touring as the lead singer of “Freedom Jam”, a band which performed at over 200 high and middle schools across the US and Canada. The following year, he became the lead singer for “Texas the Band” and incorporated his puppet, Walter T. Airedale, into his shows. The band originally planned to sign with a major record label, but the deal fell through when a representative asked Terry to sing in his own voice, having noticed that the latter impersonated other vocalists when singing.
Upon leaving the band, Terry combined ventriloquism and comedy to do solo acts. After a particularly bad setback in which just one person attended his show in a 1,000-seat theater, Terry contemplated changing careers, but was encouraged by his nearest and dearest to keep pushing. Despite continuing as a ventriloquist for several years, Terry was by then in his late 30s, and doubted that he’d ever be commercially successful.
Things changed in 2005, when Terry began including impersonations in his routines. Eventually, he became an opening act for Garth Brooks, Reba McEntire, Neal McCoy among others, and performed at corporate functions for big companies. Fast-forward two years – Terry auditioned for “AGT”, having seen that the ventriloquist in the first season of the competition had performed on the “Late Show with David Letterman”, even after being eliminated by judges.
Fator Fans–some big news. Starting at tonight's anniversary show we have two music legends joining the cast. King of…
“I figured I’d do three episodes like he did and end up on ‘David Letterman’,” Terry explained in one of his first interviews after winning. Ironically, his schedule was so jam-packed after winning, that he had to turn down gigs over a dozen times. From an 11-year residency at the Mirage in Las Vegas, to doing voiceover work for the Disney Channel, the Dallas native’s career has gone from strength to strength thanks to “AGT”, and shows no signs of slowing down anytime soon.
The Canadian-American magician Shin Lim is yet another “AGT” success story, even though the talent show didn’t exactly discover him. Known for his use of sleight of hand and card manipulation, Shin’s elaborate magic routines are even more amazing when you consider that he’s self-taught, having learned most of his skills from YouTube videos.
Shin was born in 1991 in Vancouver, British Columbia, and double majored in piano and telecommunications at the School of Music at Lee University in Tennessee. His dreams of becoming a professional pianist were dashed when he was diagnosed at the age of 20 with carpal tunnel syndrome, which affects the lower arms; however, Shin had also been interested in magic since his childhood, having taught himself several tricks.
Forced to choose between music or magic, as the Lee School required Shin to spend up to 20 hours a week practicing piano, Shin took a year-long sabbatical from his studies, and began developing new magic tricks and recording them for YouTube. During said sabbatical, he finished in sixth place at the 2012 International Federation of Magic Societies, and was contacted by an agent in 2013 with a lucrative offer to tour China.
Thanks to the success of the tour, Shin dropped out of the Lee School of Music to pursue magic full-time. Two years later, he won the World Championship for Close-up Card Magic, hosted yet again by the International Federation of Magic Societies. Producers of the magic show “Penn & Teller: Fool Us” got in touch with Shin after his World Championship win, having also seen his YouTube videos.
Following his 2015 appearance in “Fool Us”, Shin was approached by “AGT” producers who were interested in seeing his performances close up. Shin initially turned down the offer, but in 2017 finally felt ready to participate; his fiancée, Casey Thomas, also influenced his decision by encouraging him to go on the show.
In September 2018, Shin was announced as the winner of the show’s 13th season and headlined an act at the Paris Theater in Las Vegas. The following year, the magician began headlining a long-term residence at the Terry Fator Theatre in Las Vegas, and toured with the theatrical magician troupe show The Illusionists. These days, he has plenty of projects lined up, and is considered yet another “AGT” success story, despite already having a fanbase prior to competing in the show.
“AGT” itself has been renewed for an eighteenth season, whereas “AGT: All-Stars” premiered in January 2023 and has received positive viewership figures so far.