What I Learned From Being on America’s Got Talent

singing young adult man
Many of you know that in January I moved from Colorado to California. I’ve felt pretty smug over here, viewing my Colorado friends’ snowy Easter pictures, while I wear a t-shirt and flip-flops. Anyway, since we moved, we’ve had the opportunity to try a lot of new things. We’ve eaten Basque cuisine (which features pickled cow’s tongue), visited the beautiful California coast, and taken in some other local attractions.

But last week my ever-adventurous husband asked if I would like to go to L.A. for a taping of America’s Got Talent (AGT). We’ve been off-and-on fans of the show for several years, and it felt very “California” to go to a television taping. It’s times like these I am thankful for Kevin, because, even though the tickets were free, the prospect of finding appropriate outfits, getting a babysitter and attempting the 2-hour drive to L.A. in traffic almost certainly would have caused me to “chicken out” without his encouragement.

I’m glad we decided to go for it, because my first on-camera experience turned out to be even better than I anticipated. Because I enjoy finding the lessons in things, here are three things I learned from my night on AGT:

1. Doing your homework pays off.

I’ve always been a rule-follower, so once I learned that we were going to the show, I pored over the fine print. What was in NOT-so-fine print, were these instructions:

DRESS CODE IS SO IMPORTANT. DARK, SOLID COLORS ARE APPRECIATED. Hip, upscale attire is mandatory. You will be on camera so it is very important that you dress nicely! When you look great, the show looks great. Audience placement in the studio is random and may not correspond with your place in line.

Kevin and I watched a few past episodes and noticed the viewers near the stage all wore black or gray. So we carefully chose our dark-colored outfits, hoping that they were “hip and upscale” enough.

When we arrived at the taping, we noticed that not everyone had followed the dress code. Although we were not near the front of the line, when we checked in, a woman with a headset asked if we could stay for the entire show and presented us with tickets for the fourth row (in a packed auditorium that seats nearly 3,000)!

2. Celebrities are people too.

Because our seats were only a few feet away from the judges, I was able to people-watch individuals who have been part of my television-viewing history for the past 15 years — the funny one, the beautiful one, the cranky one. They were much like I expected them to be. But a moment that stood out to me, was when a hungry Simon Cowell munched on a bag of sour cream and onion potato chips, hastily dropping the bag under the table when the cameras came back on.

I’ve recently been pondering the plight of celebrities. Joshua Rogers’ post from a few weeks ago got me thinking about how we often take potshots at the famous when we don’t actually know them. Recently Carmelo Anthony (he’s a basketball player) gave a young fan a hug on court. Aw. Sweet, right? I was shocked by the vitriol surrounding the popular video, criticizing the athlete’s basketball skills. We should pray for people in the spotlight, because even though you could argue that they’ve chosen that life, it can’t be easy to be the target of constant criticism. God created them and loves them, and when they do come to know Him, they can have an enormous influence.

3. Taking a risk can lead to something great.

As I sat in that audience, enjoying some of the spectacular (and not-so-spectacular) talent at close-range, laughing along with other audience members, and experiencing the behind-the-scenes magic that goes into creating a show, I was so thankful I’d overcome my reservations about going.

When I think about it, many of my most memorable and meaningful experiences have been the result of overcoming negative messages that run through my head, such as, You won’t succeed at that, or, That won’t work out for you. But as they say, you never know until you try. So try. You never know, you may even get to be considered “hip and upscale” for one night.

About the Author

Suzanne Gosselin
Suzanne Hadley Gosselin

Suzanne Hadley Gosselin is a freelance writer and editor. She graduated from Multnomah University with a degree in journalism and biblical theology. She lives in California with her husband, Kevin, who is a family pastor, and her four young children: Josiah, Sadie, Amelia and Jackson. When she’s not hanging out with her kids, Suzanne loves a good cup of coffee, conversation with friends, musical theater and a trip to the beautiful California coast.