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AGT: Extreme Winner Alfredo Silva Says He Almost Quit Performing His Mind-Blowing Act
The veteran stuntman explains how AGT's Heidi Klum helped him regain his confidence and what makes Extreme different.
At the close of the first-ever season of AGT: Extreme, Alfredo Silva's Cage Riders were crowned the winners of the $500,000 prize.
With the votes of the Super Fans and input from Judges Simon Cowell, Travis Pastrana, and Nikki Bella, Silva and his crew's mind blowing (and dangerous) act came out on top. For his finale performance, the veteran stuntman led four motor bike riders in the cage of death while a crew of motocross athletes simultaneously executed gravity-defying stunts.
For Silva—who competed with his knife-throwing Act in America's Got Talent Season 11 and AGT: The Champions—the show meant more to him than the cash prize. As a sixth generation circus performer, it was about sharing his art with the world.
"When you talk about circus I remember the coliseums in Rome. That was the circus," Silva tells NBC Insider. "There were jugglers, there were knife throwers at the time. The circus Act, in my opinion, is the mother of all Acts. Because we do have to play a character in the show. Gladiators trying to tame wild lions and animals [for example]. It's something that's been in history, right?"
He continued, "It's something that I take very serious, because it is my life. I don't know anything else other than performing."
Lucky for Silva, he's currently a headliner at AGT's live show at the Luxor, Las Vegas. In the wake of his AGT: Extreme victory, NBC Insider caught up with Silva to reflect on his win.
NBC Insider: What's it like to have won the first season of AGT: Extreme?
Alfredo Silva: It feels a little bit surreal. Of course nobody joins a competition thinking about losing, but I know that AGT is a big deal, and I was like, "Okay, I know I'm doing my best." Honestly, I really can't believe that I won, because there were a lot of good acts in there.
What went into putting together your final performance? Especially with this being AGT: Extreme and it having to be over the top.
Well, we faced a lot of challenges. Number one, we had Covid around. That was super difficult, because I'm Brazilian originally and most of my team are either in Brazil or performing different shows in Europe. So I couldn't really fly some of my good members to take part of this with me.
Number two, we performed the biggest act for the Golden Buzzer our first audition and, honestly, it was really, really hard to top that. Can we do it safer? Because even though it's Extreme, we want to be safe. We want to make sure it's entertainment, but we're not there to risk anything. I didn't want to go and make a bigger step than I could take, and either end up crashing or having a bad accident. So all the challenges were there. And at the end of the story we were able, with our experience, to do it all because we've been doing this forever.
How did this time around compare to your other experiences on the show?
Heidi Klum gave me the Golden Buzzer on [AGT:] The Champions. And that's what really revived me, because to be honest, at that point I was thinking maybe to quit doing the act. 'Cause I don't feel like the circus acts, and the performing arts and the variety acts that do AGT has the same amount of support as the singers, the dancers, or the kids. And I've been doing this for all my life.
Then after she gave me the Golden Buzzer, bigger doors opened. Your name is everything, and I'm very grateful that AGT changed my life. Already [being on] AGT two times is an opportunity that not many people have, right? So when I found out about Extreme I was like, "Are you kidding me?" These guys are giving me the opportunity I need, because I am an extreme person. I ride motor bikes in the cage, I throw knives, I flew in the trapeze, I walk on the Wheel of Death — I've done all that during my career. So now is the time to show them one of the acts that I fell in love with when I was a little kid.
How did it feel performing for Simon again?
I'll be honest: I love Simon Cowell, but he's a bit scary. You never know what he's gonna see. He's a guy that saw thousands and thousands of acts. He's judged so many people. He knows the business—he has an eye for it. And when we did the show and he said that was the best act he'd ever seen his entire life? I was like oh my god, I finally did impress Simon Cowell. [And] that's why I went on the show.
And Nitro Circus' Travis Pastrana?
Straight after the auditions we all hung out for a little bit, because they were wowed by us. I talked to him. He's a humble, nice guy. Honestly I was overwhelmed, you know, because Travis Pastrana—he is a person that I looked up to since I was a little kid. The experience he has and also the feedback they all gave to me, especially him, I tried to use all of that in my finals, because I knew that it was important to listen to him, because he knew the business more than anybody else there.
What are you planning to do with the AGT: Extreme prize money?
I think that it's time for me to create something different. I think I want to do my own show. I want to show people what's inside my head with all the experience I have performing different on shows—and not just TV shows. I think putting a show together where I can get extreme, I can have artistry, I can get beauty, I can get poetry, I can get all those different level of art to touch people; I think that's my goal. For now, of course, if AGT wants to keep me here, I'm honored to be here. We have an amazing show here in Las Vegas at the Luxor, but if the opportunity present itself, that's what I'm gonna go for.
AGT: Extreme may have concluded, but an all-new season of AGT is right around the corner. Season 17 premieres May 31 at 8 p.m. ET with Judges Simon Cowell, Heidi Klum, Howie Mandel, and Sofia Vergara all returning, alongside Host Terry Crews.
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