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These ‘AGT’ Stars Were Rejected in Their First Auditions, Watch Them Finally Make it

Corey Cesare

Corey Cesare

Jackie EvanchoAstrid Stawiarz/Getty Images for JE Touring

You know how they say “third time’s the charm?” That’s a phrase that might be forever ingrained in the minds of these former America’s Got Talent contestants. These performers have shown us that if you really want something, never give up.

These stars from AGT are open and honest with the fact that they were not successful during their first run on the show. Whether it was age, underdeveloped skills, or some other factor, these stars were rejected during their first auditions. But they didn’t back down. Instead, they took their rejection with a grain of salt, practiced more, and tried again.

1. Brandon Leake

America’s Got Talent‘s first spoken word artist to win the show didn’t have an easy time making it on to the show. Although he won season 15 in 2020, that wasn’t the first time he had tried to make it on to the stage. Originally, Leake auditioned to be a part of season 12 in 2017. Leake was told no in 2017, but came back to the show in 2020 to show them what they were missing out on. Not only did he bring something brand new to the Got Talent franchise, he won the entire season, during a pandemic.

“I’m glad we said no because now more than ever you are more important and better than you will ever be,” Howie Mandel said. “I love you, buddy.”

Even though he was originally told no, he found his groove and it ultimately helped him win the show. Brandon will be forever remembered at AGT’s first spoken word poet. He is known for using his platform to stand up for things he believes in. We saw this on AGT and I’m sure we’ll continue to see it through the rest of his successful career.

Side note: It’s crazy to think about him going on season 12 because he would’ve been up against some of America’s favorite acts ever, Darci Lynne Farmer and Angelica Hale.


2. Jackie Evancho

This 10 year-old took to the stage after winning AGT‘s YouTube submission competition and quickly became America’s sweetheart. She was a huge fan favorite in season 5 of AGT. To this day, some of her biggest fans still think she should’ve won the show.

After her AGT run, Jackie became such a big name at such a young age. But, it soon came out that her season wasn’t her first time she had auditioned for the show. She was rejected two years in a row before finally making it to the big stage at nine-years-old. The harsh reality is, it was her viral YouTube submission that got her on the show, it was technically never the AGT producers choice at all.

In 2011, the former executive producer of America’s Got Talent, Jason Raff, explained that children performers can sound quite amazing on video, but Jackie never sent in a video submission. In 2010 she finally caught the attention of the producers from their YouTube competition.

“She was on our radar,” Raff said. “The producer who initially saw her — when we saw the videotape come in for the YouTube show — was like ‘Oh my God. That is that girl. This is pretty spectacular!'”

He also mentioned that they felt her talent was developing slowly. I’m happy to say that I feel like Evancho proved them wrong. Since winning runner up at 10 years-old, she’s gone on to have a heck of a career. She’s only 21 years-old now and has seriously accomplished so much in her career in such a young age.

3. Dustin Tavella

Our newest winner of America’s Got Talent also auditioned to be on the show multiple times. America handed Dustin their heart after his first audition where he performed magic and told the story of his son’s adoption. After that moment, everyone knew they wanted him to win the competition. Although his act was a bit different from other magicians that had been on the show, people still loved it. His act wasn’t as much about the magic as it was the story-telling. Just like Brandon, he had a captivating way to tell his story, which lead to his win.

“This is not my first season auditioning for America’s Got Talent,” said Tavella. “I auditioned previous seasons multiple times and it was just no, no, no, and now you know!”

Even though he has yet to embark on his new career, I’m sure he’ll be just as successful as both Jackie and Brandon. He has a fantastic stage presence and an amazing act.

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About the Author

Corey Cesare

Corey Cesare is a content writer and YouTube host at talent recap. With a love of all things pop culture and an unhealthy obsession with reality television (specifically Catfish The TV show), she earned her Bachelor of Arts degree in Journalism and Cinema/Screen Studies from the State University of New York at Oswego in 2021. Corey left her Rochester, NY roots to join the team in New York City. In her spare time, she enjoys shooting astro, nature, and portrait photography and coming up with movie ideas that she hopes to make into a film someday.

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