It’s the finale week for America’s Got Talent season 8, which the means the Top 6 have only one more performance to persuade viewers that they should win the top prize. BuddyTV, along with other reporters, spoke with the finalists about who their influences are in their genre of talent and their thoughts on making it to the very end. And read on to find out more about Taylor Williamson being bullied in high school, and what it’s been like for Forte to be on the show while trying to get to know each other along the way.

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Making It to the Finale

When the season began, many if not most of the acts probably saw getting to the finals as a long-shot because there’s so much that goes into making it that far. When asked about this, Fernando Verela from Forte said, “We definitely did not think that we would be in the Top 6. When we auditioned, we didn’t even know if it would even work, and we’ve been so focused on just one round at a time and doing what we need to do that week, we definitely never in a million years thought that we would be in the finale.”

“For the audition, you’re sitting there going, ‘I’m sure one of these acts in this room might be one of the finalists,'” Collins Key said. “But I don’t think at any point in the competition I ever expected to even be anywhere close to here and it’s a really cool thing.” Cami Bradley added that it feels weird because “I feel like I’ve mentally prepared myself every time to go home, and now this is the end. There is no more mentally preparing yourself to go home. You either win or you don’t.”

But Taylor Williamson, ever the comedian, was very confident he’d still be here: “I knew the whole time I’d make it to the finals because I’m really amazing,” he joked. On a more serious note, he continued, “As a comedian, you have everything going against you because the crowd is not there for a comedy show. They’re there to watch a TV taping and you’re going up after amazing singers and amazing ventriloquists and bad singers and bad ventriloquists. And then I have to tell jokes to people who aren’t there to watch comedy, and then have judges from other countries judging me. … I feel like I crashed some party and I’m the only person who knows I’m not supposed to be here.”

The Final Performances

The remaining six acts only have one more shot to impress America. So what can we expect from them for their final performance? “It’s definitely fresh [and new], but it’s something that I feel really comfortable with and would always have loved to perform on a stage like this,” said Cami, who in the past has taken a well-known song and turned it into something completely new and original sounding.

At the time of this conference call, Collins admitted that he didn’t “really know exactly what I’m doing because magic’s totally different, where I have to come up with an idea of what I want to do, figure out how I’m going to do it and then go into the whole scripting and building and all that process. So we’re still working 24/7, but we want to keep it relevant, and we want to show people stuff that they’ve never seen before.”

Forte’s Josh Page mentioned they’re “visiting something a little bit different than what we’ve been doing for the past few weeks, and it’s really coming from our world. … I think we’re also lucky to be able to revisit something that we’ve already done on the show. I think every act is doing one new thing and then something that they’ve already experienced, and kind of expand on what they’ve done. So it’s going to be nice to really do a mix of those.”

Kenichi Ebina has excelled with some very innovative performances at Radio City Music Hall, but last week at the Top 12 he toned it down with something more intimate, yet still moving and captivating. He revealed to BuddyTV that “A pre-filmed video is involved again. There will be some acting involved and will showcase ‘Director’ Kenichi.”

Who Influenced the Top 6?

Considering each of the six remaining contestants want to make it big in the industry, it seems obvious that they’d be influenced by those that came before them, their idols in their particular talent/genre. For the magician, it’s David Copperfield and Criss Angel, while for the comedian, his influences include Mitch Hedberg, Zach Galifianakis, Woody Allen and Larry David. “And Josh Page from Forte,” he finishes jokingly — we think.

Speaking of Josh Page, the Forte singer mentioned that they’ve looked up to “any classical style singer who’s been able to bring that kind of music to the masses,” including the Three Tenors and Pavarotti, along with Josh Groban, Andrea Bocelli and even America’s Got Talent‘s very own Jackie Evancho — “anybody who’s been able to really just spread that style and keep that genre alive,” he concluded.

For the country music singer in the group, Jimmy Rose has looked up to “the old country music artists … I like that old retro country music sound, and it’s sort of dying out of radio country music right now. But that’s the way it has influenced me over the years and I try to keep that in my style.” And Cami mentioned everyone from Ray Charles, Etta James and the Beatles to Adele and Mumford & Sons.

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Taylor Williamson on Childhood Bullying

Taylor recently talked on AGT about bullying. When asked to elaborate, he was willing to share more of his story. “I used to get bullied a lot for being pretty much anything you get bullied for,” he began, “like talking weird and walking weird. … But to me, it’s really cool how all of the things that I used to get picked on for that were weird about me, I’ve been able to use them and that now I have a career because of them.”

He continued, “If I wasn’t quirky and weird, if I didn’t say stupid things, if I didn’t have a weird voice and if I wasn’t awkward all the time, all the things I got put in the trash can for in high school are the reasons I’m in the finals on America’s Got Talent. … Everything that happened to Screech on Saved by the Bell happened to me. Someone put me in a locker once. I was like, ‘I don’t even fit inside, why would you try to put me inside a locker? It doesn’t even make sense.'”

Taylor also shared a story of when he ran into one of his bullies years later. “I did a show and this guy, he was like, ‘Hey man, what’s up? You remember me?’ I was like, ‘Yeah, you were really mean to me in high school. You used to punch me.’ And he’s like, ‘Oh yeah, whatever, we should hang out.’ I was like, ‘No, you were a horrible person.'” Taylor couldn’t help but slip in some humor along the way: “But now we’re dating, so it’s good. He’s turned me gay, and I’m now dating him.”

Forte: From Strangers to Brothers

For the opera trio, what makes them them apart from the rest, aside from their spectacular voices, is the fact that none of them knew each other before auditioning for America’s Got Talent. I asked them about what the process has been like competing on the show while at the same time having to get to know each other along the way. “It’s been really interesting because every single round we get to know each other better personally,” Josh Page said. “Every single round it’s like the harmony and the energy of the group becomes more settled and more concentrated on what we’re going. And it’s really a blessing … because we’re just experiencing it along with America and along with the judges.”

“We’ve had to deal with some things that other acts haven’t had to deal with on this journey,” Fernando Verela added. “There have been times where we don’t know how to work things out, and so we’ve had the added task of figuring out how to resolve different ideas within the group. And we really have become almost like brothers in that we argue about stuff, but it doesn’t get intense. … In the end, all those things get settled out, but it definitely took a couple weeks to really figure some of those things out, and really, we’re still figuring it out as we go.”

Speaking of Forte, Fernando gave a shout-out to our website, adding, “I just want to let you know I’m a big fan of” The feeling is most certainly mutual.

The America’s Got Talent season 8 finale airs Tuesday and Wednesday at 9pm on NBC.

Want to add America’s Got Talent to your very own watch-list? Download BuddyTV Guide for free for your phone.

(Image courtesy of NBC)

Jeff Dodge

Staff Writer, BuddyTV

Jeff Dodge, a graduate of Western Washington University, has been a TV news editor for many years and has had the chance to interview multiple reality show stars, including Randy Jackson, Nick Cannon, Heidi Klum, Mel B and John Cena.