America’s Got Talent: My Audition

AGT

In 2007 my office received the first of many calls from America’s Got Talent to request I come perform on their show as a contestant. My fellow corporate performer acquaintance, Terry Fator, singing impressionist and master ventriloquist, had just won, receiving a multi-million dollar Las Vegas headlining contract, ultimately replacing the legendary Danny Gans at The Mirage a year later. I was in the midst of doing corporate events in place of Terry that he could no longer fulfill due to his change in life, finances, and schedule. Always rough replacing such a great act, but by the time I acknowledged the fact they were disappointed I was there and Terry wasn’t, I sat on the floor of the stage, took my shoe off, put my sock on my hand, and sang Kermit’s “Rainbow Connection” as good as Terry, the miffed corporate buyers were laughing so hard at my impression of Terry I had them in my hand by the 2nd minute and was requested back the next year. The work and pay was great, and I guess AGT considered me next in line of the entertainers they wanted to feature.

Terry Fator

Along with my management and advisors at the time, we couldn’t get past the extensive contracting AGT required. After Terry had won the show, and then signed a $100 Million Vegas deal, AGT realized they needed to lock in performers from the get go in order to capitalize on the amount of commissions they weren’t making on multi-million dollar contracts their show winner’s might earn on the back end of a Vegas deal. They got smart and were now presenting contracts that locked performers down for years, perhaps the rest of their careers, even to have one appearance in the initial rounds of the show. Thus the reason so few good acts were on the show, just occasionally an unknown great, but not proven corporate artists with an arsenal to offer. Little did AGT understand, I had walked away from lucrative offers years before, between Vegas, Reno, and California casinos, as the offers didn’t allow me the creative control or moral integrity I had established for my career. So missing out on their show to me was not a huge issue, although I always wondered how I’d fare.

If you know my story, I never appeared on AGT, due to these contracts and the way I saw some of my associates embarrassed, used as B-Roll footage in their auditions, and then locked into contracts that would make their corporate performing life miserable for years thereafter. That’s the way of the reality show world. Discover You, Clamp You Down, Extinguish You. Next!

And then last year a very good friend of mine, Alex Boye, went on the show and made it to the 2nd Round. He represented himself well, and I felt was purposefully thrown under the bus by the judges in order to make him look bad for good TV, and was knocked off the show. I asked him about the experience, why he’d go on when he is already established and successful, and he said it was because it allowed his platform and message to get to even more people. It was worth the risk and even the unfair post-production editing and embarrassment. I remember seeing his online presence go from already large to bursting at the seams. He was right, this had helped, and now he could spread his message of love, joy, and spirit throughout the world.

Maybe it’s worth, I thought.

Alex Boy on AGT 2015

Alex Boy on AGT 2015

With the advice of many wise people, including people I would consider to be my potential managers, handlers, producers, advisors, and my inner circle, as well as former AGT show winner’s management, I took the idea to my family and children. We sat together in a family council, as my kids had begged me to go on the show since they were born, and so, I decided to take the plunge. After 4-5 years of turning AGT’s requests for me to come on the show away, I was now asking them to come on. They were excited to have me, and offered me a fast-pass audition opportunity. Another reason I chose 2015 to go for it was the one gripe I had about the show the whole time: Why not come to the city with the most talent I believe, per capita, of any in the world, mine, Salt Lake City. So when they announced they were coming to Utah I said yes, thank you for coming here, I’ll come “try out”.

As luck would have it, on December 1, 2015 I posted a normal Facebook post about my love for my wife and seeing her at Target and thinking I cheated on her. I thought it was a cute post and hit “Post” and went to bed. 24 hours later it had gone viral. Within 36 hours I had been offered 3 Reality Shows, a book deal, talks of a movie, and had been interviewed by “The Today Show”, People Magazine, and was featured front page on Business Insider, Yahoo!, Google, Vanity Fair and The Daily Post in London. 48 hours later my name, Jason Hewlett, was trending higher than any name in the world, even above Kim Kardashian, who had just birthed a baby with everyone’s favorite person, Kanye West. Yes, things were going insane in our world all of a sudden. 2 days later I tried out for America’s Got Talent, and to be honest, I wondered why I even needed to be there….as I was currently the most famous person in the world while trying out for a reality show. I found that interesting, odd, and silly. Fame is fleeting, my 15 minutes obviously came to a screeching halt a week or two later, and the FB post has gone into the vault of, “Remember that one post about that cheating husband? I wonder what happened to that guy.” George Takei’s followers would suggest, “He probably got cheated on. Or was shot.” Wow, George’s follower’s comments are not to be read, ever, by anyone wanting to feel good about themselves. WHEW!

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December 5th I auditioned for America’s Got Talent. They had promised me a fast pass, help, production assistance, anything I needed. Ends up that didn’t quite happen. I had to start from the beginning like everyone else. Sat and waited for hours, no questions answered, acted like they didn’t know me after talking and receiving videos for months, with my little number on my chest, kept getting in trouble for taking pics of myself in the waiting area for my own records and posterity. The looks on local performer’s faces walking into the waiting area who saw me sitting there was that of “Oh No, Not him.” It was great to catch up with old friends, comedians, magicians, singers, great acts I adore, and to see so many of us trying to make this happen. We are all friends, and I am proud of the many great performers in this State that went for it.

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I jumped through all the rounds that day, pretty much just did my faces, a few singing impressions of Guns n’ Roses, Journey, Led Zeppelin, Cee-Lo Green, Chipmunks….the usual…stuff I figured would knock them out. And it worked. The one judge sitting alone in a room with a video camera who was shocked sent me to the next room, where the three judges and guy with video camera were laughing hysterically and thrilled, and shocked by my act, sent me to the female producer in another room at the computer writing down my story who was shocked at all I could do, and surprised by the amazing story of Vegas, my family, etc, and then realized I was also the viral post cheat-on-his-wife guy. She said, “Wow, I just read that like 20 minutes ago, my friend from Australia sent me the link, how crazy to meet you.” It was surreal. They told me they’d be in touch by March or April for the next round, which was probably, most likely, going to happen for an act like mine.

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And so for the past 3 months I have been back and forth with the show producers. Every song I submitted that would be killer for their show was denied. Every parody I had written was submitted word for word for them to scrutinize and deny. I was told to submit multiple videos, on performance decorated stages, in front of audiences, doing exactly what I would do in increments of 90 seconds, and then a set of 5 minutes, with the few routines that were left from the bottom of the barrel of my choices. I got it to them timely, professionally, and met all demands. In fact, here’s my submission with the 5 songs they would allow me to use, in order, in front of an audience of thousands of people cheering from the start:

1. Louie Armstrong
2. Nat King Cole & Natalie Cole
3. REO Speedwagon
4. Eiffel 65 (I’m Blue Da-Ba-Dee)
5. Lady Gaga

I’d say that’s a pretty decent video, pretty awesome response, even with routines I wasn’t hoping to do on the show, but this is all they allowed.

Upon sending that video the first week of February I heard nothing but – SILENCE.

I had been told at the beginning of the year to put all of March on hold. Week by week. So I did. I only accepted one gig in order to pay my bills for the month, in order to leave March open for the next round of auditions.

SILENCE

Finally yesterday, March 1, I emailed asking if there was any news, but I’d like to know either way, as I had the whole month held for them as requested.

Today I got a one line response: “Due to the amount of contestants on the show this year you won’t be performing for the judges.”

And that was that.

I could have the normal reaction of a man who has been led on for years by an enticing woman, saying she wanted to be with me, would be mine easily, and then when I went after her shot me down and stepped on me. Or I could have the response of a businessman who spent a good 5-6 full days of work, between audition and sending all of the necessities over months, preparing, mapping, planning, performing, and then holding a whole month hostage in order to be told, “No Thanks”. Those types of sales fall through all the time, as an entrepreneur I get it and it’s part of life. I could be angry, upset, and go outside and chop down a tree with a spoon in violent rage with the thought that I will end up as B-roll and humiliated on the show that at least 5 people per gig for a decade have asked me why I haven’t been on.

But instead, I learned a great lesson here, and it is important to write this huge long ridiculous post out in order to understand and process the true feelings. The lesson learned is this: We ALL work very hard for things we want in life, give our all, our life’s work, our time, our talents, and our hopes, our dreams….and yet sometimes it’s just not what they’re looking for. For example, if I were a single man, and I chased the woman of my dreams all over this fine world, and begged her to love me by doing and being everything she could ever want, if there isn’t attraction there I couldn’t hypnotize her into loving me.

Same with this.

I did everything I could to prove I’d be great for this show. And for some reason they gave me the cold shoulder.

Waiting and waiting to perform

Waiting and waiting to perform

And you know what’s interesting is that the toughest part was telling my cute kids today that Daddy didn’t make it, and helping them understand it is the final proof I needed to continue moving in the direction I’ve been pushing for the past 5 years. The inkling in the back of my mind as to whether or not I should go for the big contract still, the fame, the show, America’s Got Talent, and all of that, this for me is exactly what I needed to say, “Jason, you are headed in the right direction, the one God has planned for you, it is time to move to the next level and commit fully.”

Had I entered this game, this show, back in 2007 or 2008, I probably would have done well on it. Who knows, maybe I win it, my life is transformed, la-dee-da-dee-da.

But no. Instead I have become more than The Show. I have had the opportunities to speak to youth all over this fine country, to reconnect with my message, to provide for my corporate clients who have me back annually my speaking as I integrate entertainment and message and stories in a way that very few have before, and my direction is set.

I am SO grateful this day for this news. It is a huge deal for me, a major weight off my shoulders. It’s not to say I’m done doing The Show. Heck, I’ll do it for a fat old fee and everyone will be happy. But it does solidify the fact that what I have been working toward, as SPEAKER, HOST, Entertainer, and all of it mashed together, makes me what I am, and that’s not a Vegas, Network TV, Public Show Performer. It all makes sense and makes me happy to have one major door I wondered about for so long finally close so I can go in the other.

So, I’ve learned a lot in this process, and I’m grateful to have been denied my appearance on the show that once wanted me but no longer does. I find it fascinating how our lives are guided when we do what we are meant to do.

And with that I must finish, as I am now homeschooling my daughter, and we have work to do to help her create her dreams, live her amazing life, as I’ve been so blessed to, and will continue to. And therein lies my greatest joy: to teach, be with family, and have the occasional gig with an incredible company who wants Jason Hewlett, The Messenger, Keynote Speaker, who Entertains, and so life is amazing.

~ jason hewlett

Comments

  1. Dang bro! I read every word and all I can say is you da MAN! Keep up the great work. The Lord does have a plan for you and I believe you’re on the right track. You’re doing the work and the Lord will bless you!

    Good for you!

    Clay

  2. Jason,
    I watched you perform recently for the Culver’s Reunion in Phoenix, AZ. I must say I was blown away by your spirit, energy and talent! As an avid fan of AGT, this is sad to hear. I’m glad things worked out for the better for you. Keep on sharing your message with those who want to hear!

    • Jason Hewlett

      Chris, Culvers was one of my favorite groups of all-time. Thank you for the kind comments, hope to return, and continued success to you!

    • Jason Hewlett

      Wow, thank you so much Ted. I hesitated to even post this one, but am grateful it could be another chapter in the story.

  3. Jason, I for one am happy that you are who you are. You touch and change lives with your incredible message and the way you present it – open, honest – YOU! If you would have become the famous TV guy way back then I would never have had the opportunity to meet you and we would not have been able to touch so many lives at Utah Business Week, WCF, and the other events you have helped me with over the year. I love you and am grateful that you are doing what you do and that I get to be a teenie little part of that.
    Love and Hugs, Peg

  4. Jason, thank you for sharing this story. Your attitude about what was revealed in this process and the gratitude you feel is such a great example for all of us. You are indeed doing what you were meant to do and loving it. We’re fortunate to learn valuable lessons you’ve shared. Thanks very much!

  5. Michelle Wildeman

    Jason, being a Y girl, I have watched you through 2 of our conventions and have to say that it is a breath of fresh air to watch your show, your talent and your free spirit!! I love that you didn’t change who you are for Vegas and that you are entertaining the true backbone of this country…families. God Bless you and your family!

    • Jason Hewlett

      Wow Michelle, you are so cool to comment and say this. I LOVE YOUNIQUE, they have been so incredible to me. I hope to see you again soon!

  6. Jason, your transparency is so refreshing. I love your positive attitude in the midst of something that could have been quite upsetting. I love what you said toward the end about one door closing so you can go through another. You must feel such a great relief to know which door you’re going through. My favorite line from this post is: “I find it fascinating how our lives are guided when we do what we are meant to do.” You’re inspiring me to be who I’m meant to be and follow my dreams. If you’ve created this thing you do, I can create my own unique thing and be guided to do what I’m meant to do. Thank you for sharing this little part of your life with us.

    • Jason Hewlett

      Ashley, this means a great deal to me. It is definitely a relief to know I’m guided, and we all are when we succumb to that Higher Power. Thank you!

    • Jason Hewlett

      And you inspire me every day – I’m just trying to figure out when you sleep. Keep up the amazing work, you bless so many lives.

  7. Tim

    Jason, I saw you at Brasher’s in Sacramento last year. What a great show! I really enjoyed reading your story. There is a lot of wisdom and experience in your words. Thanks!

  8. Jason I loved reading your story. I have been privileged to watch you live at 2 Younique conventions and you not only entertaining but amazingly uplifting. It’s such a breath of fresh air knowing that I will laugh uncontrollably that my face hurts and not have to sacrifice my own integrity just for entertainment. It so nice to watch a comedian/entertainer with high morals and standards. My kids LOVE your videos. Thank you for your great example in this world. I love following your story.

    • Jason Hewlett

      Means the world to me you’d use the word “uplifting”. That is the whole hope within the entertainment. Thank you and tell your kids hello from their favorite Raptor Dad.

  9. Nick

    Your FB post fame spike came just when needed and altered perceived power dynamics — AGT’s model requires arbiter leverage, and you suddenly had back-channel access to connected emotions as viewers made the same realization as that producer. And it was inevitable. I’m sure it was a widely discussed and cogent decision on their part, despite your terse rejection note.

    Stay true, rock on.

  10. Love, love this story!

    As a variety performer moving towards more speaking gigs I can relate to your situation.

    I know several people that have horror stories about AGT, people that made it pretty far and how little it’s helped their career.

    I heard from an event producer that her clients don’t want someone who’s been on AGT because they want someone classy for their event.

    People thrived in this business long before AGT and you’ll continue to thrive without it!

  11. Julie Holbrook

    I hope all your work has been copyrighted! I saw you perform at an Aaron Osmond event and I haven’t laughed so much since then! Sorry this didn’t work out for you, thanks for sharing and showing we can still be happy in spite of disappointments.

  12. Joni

    I used to work at Corporate Alliance and saw a few of your performances. I laughed so hard I cried. I was amazed by your talent. Life’s lessons are so interesting. I love that while you could choose to be bitter and angry you aren’t. Thanks for sharing.

    • Jason Hewlett

      Great to hear from you Joni! I hope all is well. Thank you for reading and commenting. Yes, it’s all about our perspective. 🙂

  13. Tracey

    Your just too good for Hollywood. Keep being yourself, that’s what your good at. I would have loved to see you on Americas got Talent, but for selfish reasons. I believe things happen for a reason and your being guided in a different (better) direction.

    • Jason Hewlett

      Tracey, this is very kind of you to say. I am grateful God has a path and plan for all of us, we just have to figure out which way that is 😉 God bless.

  14. Thank you for sharing. I needed that today. It reminds me of a scripture that I have written out on a post-it note on my bathroom mirror. “You, Lord, give perfect peace to those who keep their purpose firm and put their trust in you.” Your story is a living testimony to that scripture.

  15. Jason,
    In the last 18 years of my life I have responded only to invitations to come speak and train. Every time I have attempted to pursue and opportunity, sell someone, or go after a “big deal”. It has never worked. Maybe it’s as simple as me being terrible at marketing and sales. Or maybe it’s as simple as trusting that God, who I said I would give my life too, it taking care of me and my family….as I try to do just that.
    When you give your life to God you say you will go where He wants you to go. If it just seems like the biggest no brainer ever… and it’s not happening for some reason… then it must not be happening for “SOME REASON”

    I love you and your continue to inspire me and bless my life….thank you
    Kirk

    • Jason Hewlett

      Love you right back, my mentor and friend. This is so true. I also am a “terrible marketer” and all my gigs come from someone having seen me or referred me, so I get what you’re saying. He has His plan, we just have to allow ourselves to go freely down His path. Love you brother! Oh and FYI, we did Dog Poop Initiative for FHE last night! You inspire us daily.

  16. Kathy

    Greater rewards than AGT await you Jason, and now that you can have that perspective it sounds like you’ve already noticed them. You are changing lives BECAUSE you have followed the path God inspired you to follow. You are doing GOOD things, POSITIVE things, and sharing life changing messages wherever you go. You are reaching hearts that wouldn’t not have otherwise been touched. AGT’s loss is our gain.

    • Jason Hewlett

      You’re the best Kathy, thank you so much. It is amazing how God allows us to experience these things for our own learning, and it makes us better. I hope to return to Kirton & McConkie sooner than later. God bless!

  17. Shari Brown

    I’ve so enjoyed your entertainment at both of the Younique conventions, you have such a gift! I see this as God simply saying, “Not here, Jason.” Something bigger is coming for you and this was not it. 🙂 Rejection is just information and God’s way of leading us in the direction we are supposed to go! I can’t wait to see what the future holds for you…and no matter how big you become, you must never stop the Younique gig. Thankyouandgoodnight. 😉

    • Jason Hewlett

      Shari, Thank you for your kind message, so true. Younique has blessed me greatly, I’m sure it has you. Continued blessings to you!

  18. Natalie Green

    Jason,

    Thank you for all you do to bring joy to so many people – you are truly an inspiration! I appreciate your positive outlook on life, your witty charm, and the ability you have to make every individual you meet feel like they are the “VIP” of the moment! You are a great example of finding joy in the journey, and helping others to do the same! Press forward and keep up the great work my friend!

    PS – One of my favorite quotes: “Don’t let yesterday use up too much of today” – Will Rogers
    Way to apply this!

    • Jason Hewlett

      Natalie! Love hearing from you! Thank you for reading, and this kind comment. Love Will Rogers as well 🙂 Your willingness to help me, hire me, and take some referrals have really helped me get to the level I’m at – we don’t do anything in life alone, and I thank you for inspiring me! Give my friends at US Synthetic my best!

  19. Holly

    Thank you for your amazing attitude and example of living life fully, purposefully, and guided by our Heavenly Father down your true path. Your message was something I really needed to hear today…I’m very touched. You are amazing. Keep doing what your doing!

    • Jason Hewlett

      Wow Holly, you are so great to read and say this. We are guided, as long as we allow ourselves to be. I appreciate your kind words and God bless.

  20. Lisa Webb

    Saw you twice at Paparazzi conventions…and oh, how we laughed!! You’re doing great, inspiring people, and thoroughly entertaining them, so just keep that up!

    • Jason Hewlett

      Lisa, you are so sweet. Paparazzi was a game changer for me, as they allowed me to entertain and return to share the message, that was a big deal for me and I’ll always be grateful. I hope to return soon and thank you for your kind words! Best of blessings to you!

  21. Betty Jo Western

    Jason,

    So enjoyed reading your newsletter and hearing your story, I agree with the prior posts that you do not need AGT for validation, you are an amazing person and entertainer. I miss you in the Fair circuit , however excited for you in your new arena. Keep up the great work and great Faith! You are and will be blessed!!

    • Jason Hewlett

      Betty Jo, my dear friend, this means a great deal to me. I too miss the fair circuit, those were good times, and although I’ve had this opportunity to move in this direction I know it was because of people like you that I’ve had great chances to make things happen. You are the best.

  22. Jeff

    Hearing you at the Partsmaster Sales Meeting a few years ago reaffirmed to me how important it is that we stick to our core values, despite what others are telling us is important. You’re an inspiration to so many Jason. May God continue to bless you and your family!

    • Jason Hewlett

      Jeff that means a great deal to me. Partsmaster was amazing to work with, I’d love to return if ever the opportunity arises. Thank you for your kind words and God bless you!

  23. Jkeyser

    Jason, THANK YOU for sharing. Last week I decided NOT to join a new “reality” TV show for songwriters because of the severely flawed contract that would leave me with absolutely NO copyright ownership or royalties from any of my songs submitted for the show audition or created on the show and likely some thereafter. Reading your story solidified in my head and heart that I made the right choice and that fame is not really anything I’m seeking anyway. I seek to write great songs like you seek to bring great family entertainment and you are the KING of what you do. God bless.

    • Jason Hewlett

      WOW, this is amazing. Thank you so much for your kind words, and I’m happy for you to have the confirmation as well. These shows are a tough deal, as they can bring much good into the world, but they will own you. So I’m glad you’ve chosen this path. Thank you and best of blessings to you! Where can I hear your music?

  24. Kathy Urry

    You are doing just what the Lord wants you to do. Your family comes first then your talent. Trust the Lord he will put you where you need to be and I know you will go far

    • Jason Hewlett

      Thank you very much Kathy, it is so right, God knows our direction, thank you for reading and commenting! God Bless!

  25. Cassie

    I love this so much. Thank you for the story. We met you back in Albany, OR at the YMCA Comedy Show. Can’t wait to see you perform again. My favorite part of this post, other than the mention of my all time favorite person Kanye, was that this is the path you’re supposed to be on. No idea your life at all, but I read that and felt the same in my heart. (If it turns out you’re on the wrong path, I’ll deny everything).

    Thanks for the updates and the smiles.

    • Jason Hewlett

      So awesome, thank you Cassie for reading and commenting. YMCA Albany, that was a great time! Totally true, we are on the right path when we do what we are meant to do. Perfect.

  26. Jason – I had already read this tremendous and generous story once, but felt compelled to read it again and share with my family just now. I, too, have been asked to audition with a fast-pass and of course it is tempting to me – oh how fabulous to have that exposure, the potential opportunities it may surely bring and potentially extraordinary contracts.

    I thank you from the bottom of my heart for setting me straight. Again, just recently someone on the inside who assures us I would get the fast-pass treatment has been in touch.

    And I cannot do it to myself.

    You are the best of the best. Thank you for allowing us into your world and your experience in such detail.

    You absolutely, totally rock.

    Karen xoxo

    • Jason Hewlett

      Woah Karen, that’s incredible. You and I would probably win this type of thing 🙂 Your words mean so much. I am so grateful this touched you to do the right thing for you and your amazing career. We don’t need these types of gigs, we are currently doing the work we were made to do, love you friend.

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