Laverne Cox joins “America’s Got Talent” for nail biting round of Judges Cuts

Laverne Cox and Tyra Banks

Actress and guest judge Laverne Cox posed with Tyra Banks at a taping of the “America’s Got Talent” Judges’ Cuts. (Photo & graphic property of NBC)

By: Jacob Elyachar,

Actress and LGBT activist Laverne Cox joined America’s Got Talent as the Season 12 Judge Cuts hit the halfway mark.  The Orange Is the New Black, and Rocky Horror star arrived just in time as a bulk of the acts tonight planned to go the extremes to make it to the Dolby Theatre.

Sadly, there have been some lackluster Golden Buzzer choices that both Laverne Cox’s predecessors, Chris Hardwick and DJ Khaled, made including choosing nine-year-old singer Angelica Hale and 21-year-old Ed Sheeran impersonator singer-songwriter Chase Goehring to advance to the next round.  Did Laverne Cox and awarded the right act—the Golden Buzzer? Read on to find out.

After Tyra Banks had welcomed the judges to the stage, she introduced tonight’s extraordinary guest: Laverne Cox, who promptly pressed the Golden Buzzer. Up first to face Laverne Cox and the judges was 34-year-old choreographer Oscar Hernandez. He spent years helping NBA and NFL cheerleaders look good, and now it was his time in his spotlight. Oscar dedicated his Judge Cuts performance to Laverne Cox. Oscar stepped up to the plate with the help of some cheerleaders who gave them splits, sass, and sparks as they interpreted Jessie J’s “Bang Bang.” As Simon gave him a standing ovation, Laverne told him to “Never give up on his dreams.”

There were a lot of magic acts that faced off for one of the seven spots. Tony and Jordan brought a video game to life; the Naked Magicians got Tyra Banks to help them reveal an activity, which was “eat.” Meanwhile, South Korean magician Jeki Yoo hoped to redeem himself in Simon’s eyes and bring his wife to the United States. Jeki visited the Judges’ Table and asked Laverne Cox to pick a card and autograph it.  After Heidi had put a sticker on the card, Jeki transported the card into a bowl three times. Howie and Heidi loved Jeki, while Laverne stated that “nothing can stand in his way.” Even Simon changed his tune and impressed that Jeki stepped it up!

Herbie Russ and Mike Yung proved to the America’s Got Talent audience that you are never too old to chase your dream. Herbie performed “With A Little Help From My Friends, ” and I felt that the spirit of Joe Cocker entered the room. Herbie’s raw vocals blew me away, and he received a standing ovation from both Laverne Cox and Heidi Klum. However, Simon stated that he would not have done a Joe Cocker song because he sounded like the late blue-eyed soul singer.  Next, the New York subway singer gave an outstanding performance of “A Change is Gonna Come,” that gave me chills. Simon gave him a standing ovation, and Laverne Cox told that this was his moment and “anything is possible!”

Atlanta, Georgia singing group Final Draft brought an intriguing take to Keane’s “Somewhere Only We Know,” but I had to agree with the judges it was a little disappointing. Meanwhile, Hip-hop dance crew Brobots and Mandroidz had to deal with the absence of three members as their families wanted them to focus on school. But, they delivered a booty shaking routine that had Tyra Banks dancing backstage. They had great choreography, and I thought it was not only worthy of the Live Shows but a Las Vegas show. All the ladies loved the routine and gave them a standing ovation!

While Howie reminded Laverne of the Golden Buzzer, 12-year-old Marisa McKaye sang a beautiful cover of Martina McBride’s “A Broken Wing,” Nine-year-old Celine returned to the show and covered Michael Bolton’s “How Am I Suppose To Live Without You?” Celine does have an excellent voice, and I am amazed that she knows those songs extremely well. The audience went crazy for Celine, while Laverne Cox wanted to take her home and decided to give her a Golden Buzzer!

(A rant from the Author: OK! Seeing child performers be awarded the Golden Buzzer is getting annoying!  Too many kid singers being awarded Golden Buzzers! I firmly believe that NBC should develop an American version for “The Voice Kids” with Pharrell, Alicia Keys, Christina Aguilera, and former “Voice Australia” coach Keith Urban as mentors. (Let Adam and Blake take a well-deserved vacation) Also, it is time for AGT to up the age limit to 18!)

Keytar player Jay Jay Phillips brought pyrotechnics to his performance and rocked out. While Heidi stated that she would pass on Jay Jay, Simon told him that he would be a lot of fun at the live shows.

I was so happy that the LA dance company Diavolo returned to the Judge’ Cuts. Just like in their Judges’ Auditions, the dance troupe brought a moveable stage to their performance. My jaw dropped throughout their routine, and their showmanship blew my mind! The group received the rare five judge standing ovation, and while Laverne Cox questioned Diavolo’s place in the market, Simon told them that they would be in the mix during deliberations.

47-year-old daredevil Bello Nock shocked the Pasadena Civic Center audience with his Judges’ Auditions, but he vowed not to let Simon’s “No” get the best of him. However, in order to change Simon’s mind, Bello promised to shoot himself out of a cannon and fly himself over a cannon. As Bello got in the cannon, Heidi got sick in the stomach. Thank god, Bello landed on the inflatable bullseye! While Heidi and Simon gave him a standing ovation, Laverne Cox stated that Bello scared the hell out of her and Bello added that if he went to the Live Shows, he wanted Simon to join him in his act.

Voice impressionist Daniel Ferguson brought Bobby, Marge Simpson, and Gollum together to sing Maroon 5’s “Sugar.” It was hilarious to hear Howie reprise his role as Bobby just for five seconds to talk to Daniel’s Bobby.  Meanwhile, stand-up comedian Preacher Lawson’s mother returned to the United States after teaching in China to perform in front of Laverne Cox and the judges. Preacher talked about getting catfished online, and I loved his machine gun-style of telling jokes, plus if you incorporate miniature splits in your 90-seconds, you deserve props! Simon, Howie, and Mel B gave him a standing ovation, and both Howie and Simon stated that Preacher had star quality.

While Preacher reunited with his mom backstage, sibling rolling skating act Billy & Emily England hoped to skate their way to the Dolby Theatre. For their act, the siblings performed their superb signature stunts including Billy twirling his sister up in the air. As both Mel B and Heidi screamed from the table, Emily grabbed onto her brother’s beard, and he continued to lift her into the air, which made Laverne Cox gasp and Howie in shock. The duo received the rare five judge standing ovation for their dynamic routine. Howie called them “crazy,” while Laverne Cox was horrified and asked if America would get a heart attack if the siblings advanced to the next round.

After the judges had a heated debate and said farewell to Laverne Cox, it was time to reveal who will be performing at the Dolby Theatre.  The acts moving on to the next round were Oscar Hernandez, Mandroidz and Aliens, Diavolo, Billy & Emily, Mike Yung, and Preacher Lawson!

Next week, Heidi Klum recruits her ex-husband and superstar Seal for the final round of the Season 12 Judge Cuts!

Copyright 2020 Jacob Elyachar