‘America’s Got Talent’: Simon Cowell Praised for Sticking Up for Plus-Size Dance Contestant

This summer, NBC is airing America’s Got Talent contestants’ initial auditions for the four judges on Season 15 — Heidi Klum, Simon Cowell, Howie Mandel, and Sofia Vergara. On AGT, the reality series which thrusts ordinary citizens (who happen to have a great talent) into stardom, the in-house audience is also known for being very vocal in their opinions on new acts. For one recent dancer who tried out for America’s Got Talent, the audience — and Cowell — went wild. However, his fellow judge Klum wasn’t so convinced. Now, fans are praising Cowell for sticking up for the dancer, a young woman named Amanda LaCount who is a strong voice in the body positivity community.

Simon Cowell - America's Got Talent
Simon Cowell attends the America’s Got Talent Season 15 Kickoff | Tibrina Hobson/WireImage

‘America’s Got Talent’ 2020 cast member didn’t impress judge Heidi Klum much

At age 19, Amanda LaCount has achieved more in the dance industry than many of her professional peers twice her age.

According to LaCount’s website:

Amanda LaCount is a well known hip hop dancer, choreographer, model, and influencer. Some of her most notable performances include The Ellen Show, Meghan Trainor, Katy Perry, DWTS, The Voice, and her National Dance Tour Amanda LaCount Live.

With hundreds of thousands of followers on social media, LaCount started a body positivity movement called #breakingthestereotype. The professional dancer — who has performed with Lizzo, Lady Gaga, and Katy Perry — has inspired several young dancers who don’t fit the mold of how a dancer is “supposed” to look.

LaCount recently competed on season 15 of America’s Got Talent, and the judges were split on how they felt about the dancer.

‘AGT’ judges split votes over dance contestant Amanda LaCount

During LaCount’s performance to Todrick Hall’s bop “Nails Hair Hips Heels,” Klum hit the red X on the dancer. This sparked boos from the audience. Everyone else in the room — including Cowell, Vergara, and Mandel, gave LaCount a standing ovation after her routine.

Klum told LaCount: “I also think you’re a great dancer; I also love your spirit, your vibe, your energy.” However, she qualified that compliment with this: “I just don’t think it’s a million-dollar act.”

Simon Cowell praised on Twitter or speaking up for the teenage dancer

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While Cowell has faced his fair share of controversy — for everything from his deep-cutting critiques on American Idol to the discrimination case involving AGT judge Gabrielle Union, but in this case, Cowell spoke up for the right cause.

LaCount told the four America’s Got Talent judges about the bullying and discrimination she had faced as a young dancer. Many people told the 19-year-old she was “too big to dance.” And one studio owner told LaCount’s mother that the young dancer “didn’t have the right body type.” Cowell told LaCount those people should “shut up.”

He also gushed about the contestant after LaCount’s performance.

“I loved every minute of the audition,” Cowell told LaCount, who beamed in response.

“Your joy and enthusiasm is so contagious,” the America’s Got Talent judge continued. “Look, this is why we have our different people one panel. We all have honestly, different opinions.”

The in-person audience cheered in response to Cowell’s comments.

“I’m going to remember you,” he told the dancer. “And I’d like to see where you could progress.”

Amanda LaCount
Amanda LaCount at “Giveback Day” in 2018 in Los Angeles, California | Michael Bezjian/Getty Images for The Artists Project

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On Twitter, America’s Got Talent viewers praised Cowell for his comments to LaCount.

“Wow. Fat-shaming a young girl on #agt,” one fan of the show tweeted in response to Klum’s buzzer. “You are old enough to know better! Good for Simon who saw the dancer’s spirit when all you saw was her weight.”

Eventually, LaCount moved on to the next round after three yeses from the America’s Got Talent judges.