When it came to the final moments of this season’s America’s Got Talent, there were two acts left standing and both were from Virginia. Sixteen-year-old aerialist Aidan Bryant and magician Dustin Tavella stood side by side as they waited to hear which would win $1 million and a starring role in AGT Live at Luxor Las Vegas.
In the end it was Tavella.
In a call today with the newly crowned champ, Tavella reflected on his final performance on Tuesday. “It was really scary but also somewhat relieving,” he says. “We had made it to the end. Up to that point, it was you’ve got to keep going. As much as I wanted to win, it still felt like a pipe dream. I never really truly expected it.”
He was happy with his performance. “I felt really good about it. It was one of my favorites,” he says, adding that what he enjoys the best about magic is creating that sense of excitement and wonder for anyone watching.
On the finale last night, Tavella performed with season nine AGT winner magician Mat Franco. Tavella says he was familiar with Franco and his magic. “It was crazy. I was on the stage with this guy who won AGT and then later, I find out I won. It doesn’t seem real,” he says. “I’ve had the pleasure to work with amazing magicians through this – Brent Braun, Danny Garcia, and Blake Boyd.”
When Tavella found out he was in the final five, he says the moment was bittersweet. The top ten contestants had become very close during their run on the show. “I was standing here with my friends. Every time I would make it further, someone wouldn’t get to win … everyone is amazing,” he says.
Virginia in the Winner’s Circle
The odds of two Virginians becoming the last two acts standing were far greater than any odds Tavella faces with his magic. Those odds weren’t lost on Tavella. He and Bryant connected early on because of their Virginia connection.
“Aidan is so talented and amazing. He’s got great things ahead of him,” Tavella says. “Everyone is so incredible and worked so hard.”
When Tavella’s name was called in the last two minutes of the show, he experienced a “crazy flood of emotions,” he says. “It’s something we have been praying for. At that moment all of it became reality. Then everything went blank. People were taking pictures and the judges came up. Everything was happening so quickly and my head was spinning. It’s not every day that happens.”
As far as the future, it’s a journey that Tavella is “taking a day at a time,” he says, noting that his dates to star in AGT Live at the Luxor – starting November 4 – are yet to be determined.
Tavella is excited about the friendships he has made through his time on AGT and wants to continue those now that the show has ended. “[Opera singer] Victory Brinker is amazing and her family is incredible,” he says. “We [his wife and two sons] plan to go over and visit them at some point.”
He’s also close to singer Jimmy Herrod and members of the Northwell Nurse Choir. “I’m looking forward to new opportunities and new friendships,” he says.
To his friends in Virginia Beach where he and his family live, Tavella has this message: “Thank you to everybody for your support and encouragement. I wouldn’t be here if it wasn’t for all of you.”