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Lifestyle & Human Interest

Judge Sofia Vergara Tears Up on AGT Recalling Her Brother's Murder

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“America’s Got Talent” has seen so many acts over its 15 seasons on NBC. Singing will always be a mainstay, but there’s also plenty of dancing, questionable magic shows and disillusioned contestants who think they have something special.

But spoken word poetry is a first, and Brandon Leake made sure to highlight that fact when he stepped onto the AGT stage during Tuesday’s show. A former English teacher and current college counselor, Leake is also excited to provide the best life he can for his new arrival.

While 27-year-old Leake is a first-time dad with a 2-week-old daughter at home, his act centered around another baby girl who was very dear to him: his sister.

“So tonight’s poem is actually, uh, an ode to my sister,” he said as he stood on the stage.

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“Are you close to your sister?” judge Howie Mandel asked.

“Very much,” Leake replied. “She is here with me now.”

“Oh she’s — she’s backstage?” Mandel said.

Leake smiled and said “kind of,” and then waited for his poem to explain the rest.

As he spoke, the story unfurled. He spoke of love and loss, of his baby sister born on July 14, 1996, who died less than a year later on March 23, 1997. He was only 4 years old, but he remembers her.

In the final line — which has now gone viral in its own right — Leake said, “If this pain and these memories are all that I got left of you, I won’t never regret these scars from just trying to hold onto you.”

Judge Sofia Vergara was tearing up, which Mandel noted.

“My brother passed away the same year that your sister passed away,” Vergara told Leake.

Rafael Vergara, 27, was murdered during an attempted kidnapping in Colombia, according to the Daily Mail.

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“I can feel your pain,” she said. “I know what this is. I know what it is to have somebody taken from you without you knowing. But it was very beautiful for me.”

Even generally stoic Simon Cowell, who’d started out a bit skeptical, was thoroughly impressed.

“Tell me, because, uh, I don’t really understand poetry, I’m gonna be honest with you,” he said to Leake before the performance. Leake assured him that he’d be a great introduction and that his topics were highly accessible.

After the poem was completed, Cowell was visibly impressed, calling Leake “extraordinary” and his poem “an amazing tribute.”

“There was something more raw in the way — it’s like singing and talking and just being a human a capella,” Mandel said.

“No music, no nothing, just a raw heart beating in front of us. We feel your pain, we feel your love, and you moved me to do this …”

And with that, he hit the golden buzzer and a shower of golden confetti rained down on the young man.

“I can finally share this moment… so surreal, thank you everyone for the love, I promise to keep going!” Leake posted on Facebook on Wednesday.

“We winning this y’all!!! Thank you @howiemandel for believing in me and my talent! I will forever be grateful!”

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Amanda holds an MA in Rhetoric and TESOL from Cal Poly Pomona. After teaching composition and logic for several years, she's strayed into writing full-time and especially enjoys animal-related topics.
As of January 2019, Amanda has written over 1,000 stories for The Western Journal but doesn't really know how. Graduating from California State Polytechnic University with a MA in Rhetoric/Composition and TESOL, she wrote her thesis about metacognitive development and the skill transfer between reading and writing in freshman students.
She has a slew of interests that keep her busy, including trying out new recipes, enjoying nature, discussing ridiculous topics, reading, drawing, people watching, developing curriculum, and writing bios. Sometimes she has red hair, sometimes she has brown hair, sometimes she's had teal hair.
With a book on productive communication strategies in the works, Amanda is also writing and illustrating some children's books with her husband, Edward.
Austin, Texas
Languages Spoken
English und ein bißchen Deutsch
Topics of Expertise
Faith, Animals, Cooking