When Alex Montoya learned last summer that “America’s Got Talent” would be auditioning in San Diego on Nov. 10, he immediately applied to be a contestant.
Montoya, 45, isn’t a singer, dancer, juggler, magician, ventriloquist or bird caller.
“I figured they need something a little different ... something I’ve never seen someone do on the show before,” says the East Village resident who was born missing both arms and one leg.
What Montoya is going to do in front of the “AGT” producers is talk. He is a motivational speaker who founded his own company, AMOtivational Communications, in 2015. Montoya usually delivers his inspirational talks at schools, in corporate settings or at nonprofit events.
He tells his personal story to inspire people. “We have the power to overcome our challenges,” insists Montoya, whose biggest challenge in Sunday’s audition will be condensing his message to the two-minute audition time, but still achieving the WOW factor.
Prior to turning full-time to motivational speaking, Montoya worked from 2006 to 2015 for the San Diego Padres as manager of Latino relations where he concentrated on community outreach.
The Nov. 10 auditions at the San Diego Convention Center are the first of eight casting calls “AGT” has scheduled across the country for the upcoming season of its NBC show.
“We can see upwards of 2,000 auditions in a day,” estimated Adam Davis, “AGT”'s supervising digital producer. “Doors open at 8 a.m., and as long as you’re in line before 7 p.m., we will see your audition,” he added. Executive Producer Simon Cowell and the series’ celebrity judges won’t be participating in this preliminary phase.
“It has been a few seasons since our last visit,” Davis said. (Auditions took place at the San Diego Convention Center in early 2016.) “The most memorable person from San Diego to be on the “AGT” stage is Season 8 (2013) runner-up comedian Taylor Williamson,” he added.
While they may or may not have auditioned locally, a number of San Diegans have competed on the show.
In 2016, singer Brian Justin Crum, who grew up in San Diego, finished in fourth place. Early this year, he was invited to compete on a spinoff “AGT: The Champions” for “best of the best” in the world bragging rights, but was beat out by magician Shin Lim.
Comedian Vicki Barbolak was living in an Oceanside trailer when she made it to the show finals in 2018. A teen tap dance troupe, Evoke Tap Movement from Carlsbad, performed in the televised auditions in 2015, and 8-year-old jazz singer, Sadie Duca, of La Costa, wowed the TV judges in 2011.
San Diego County contestants also have included Alpine juggler Kenny Shelton, San Diego singing duo Blue Velvet, Vista ventriloquist Kevin Johnson, Ocean Beach aerialist Laura Dasi and 6-year-old Carlsbad comedian Nathan Bockstahler.
Last year, singing doctor, oncologist Steven Eisenberg, made it to the stage, only to receive elimination buzzers from all four judges.
While Montoya registered in advance through AGTauditions.com and was given a number and assigned a 1 p.m. arrival time, Davis emphasizes that performers can just show up and get in line.
Locals unable to attend here will get another nearby opportunity at Morongo Casino near Palm Springs on Jan. 18 and at “AGT”'s final casting call in Los Angeles on Feb. 1.
Meanwhile, Montoya explains why he is such a big fan of the show. “With how divided our country is today,” he says, “‘America’s Got Talent’ is a feel-good show that brings everyone together.” Only time will tell if he can “talk” his way onto its national stage.