Well, months after I first mentioned it, I’ve finally gotten around to giving some limelight to our Carolina girl who made it to prime time TV — Columbia’s Dorae Saunders, a Top 40 contestant on this past season’s “America’s Got Talent.”
It seems that when Dorae was appearing on the Tyra show for publicity for the movie “Trantasia,” all of the participants were encouraged by a producer to go audtion for “AGT.” You know Dorae — she’s a real go-getter. Not knowing how thing’s would turn out, Dorae tried out.
At the very start, she says, all the folks who had gathered to try out had to sign an exclusivity agreement with the network. She auditioned here in Charlotte. And, what do you know, she got called back!
Dorae traveled all by herself to each round of competitions and on the biggest night, performed her most famous impersonation of the legendary Tina Turner.
All-in-all, Dorae traveled to 11 cities with the first being Dallas and others including Las Vegas and Los Angeles. Dorae says the experience, although incredibly rewarding, was not as glamorous as it might have appeared to TV viewers.
“It was grueling, hard work. Rehearsals, then dress rehearsals and then once you got there, it was very much a ‘Hurry up and wait’ situation,” she says.
Dorae says being around all the contestants felt like being at camp. She even got to chat it up with some of the judges.
“Oh, yes. I got up close and personal with Sharon Osborne, “she says, adding that she liked Osborne a great deal, and was just fine with David Hasselhoff, too.
Dorae made the Top 40, was seen on TV a handful of times and loved every minute, including the time she famously told judge Piers Morgan she was an actress and a dancer if not a singer, and taught him a thing or two when she reminded him that Angela Bassett lip-synched, too, to Tina Turner music in the movie “What’s Love Got To Do With It.” So there!
She also did a production number with dancers provided by the show, and a somewhat new look with the help of the show’s stylist. “The first time, he re-did the hair, and it was too dark! I had to tell him, we’ve got to lighten this up for Miss Tina!,” she says.
Saunders also reported that most artists who sang live did not get much of a choice where musical selections were concerned, but because she did a lip-sync, she had a little more flexibility.
Dorae says the experience has opened doors for her. The exposure has gotten her some excellent contracts and she adds she’s got some other great things in the works. She also teased me with a sneak at another possible national pageant being on the horizon.
She’s got an extra gig in Charlotte at Chaser’s now on some Thursdays, and appears monthly at the Comedy House Theater in Columbia, which is basically a straight venue, although “I’m sure they’ve had gay comics there before, but…”
Saunders said she feels like she broke the mold in this genre on TV. She admitted she did not think she would go as far as she did because of the way transgender folks are presented in popular culture and media. As far as advising fellow entertainers, she enthusiastically replied, “If you think you’ve got talent, Go! Do not be afraid to try. Anything is possible!”