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Flying High

A Livermore acrobat proves America’s Got Talent in the East Bay.


Michael Parmlelee/NBC

If you watched the most recent season of America’s Got Talent, chances are you saw Livermore’s Ani Smith flip and twist into the finale as a member of AcroArmy. Diablo sat down with 16-year-old Smith to talk about performing on television, crazy stunts, and what goes on behind the scenes.

Q: How did you first get involved with acrobatics?

A: I was eight years old when I saw acrobatics at a gym, and I knew I had to try it. It was almost like love at first sight.

Q: Sadly, we’re not all experts on the sport. What exactly is it?

A: There are three main components: static balancing, dynamic moves (the tosses, throws, spins, and flips), and a combination of the two. I’m a flyer, which means I’m the one up in the air, and work very closely with my base.

Q: How did it feel to perform on TV?

A: I don’t think I’ve ever been so nervous to perform before. I didn’t see the crowd; I didn’t see the judges. I just focused on what I was doing. The judges afterward were even more nerve racking.

Q: Speaking of judges, Howie Mandel has been pretty open about his fear of germs. Did you shake his hand?

A: [Laughs] He was actually coming off the red carpet, and I shook his hand. He even let me touch his head!

Q: Tell us something about the show that viewers might not know.

A: The show goes so smoothly on television, but it’s chaos to put it together.

Q: When did you realize that you had a shot at making the finale?

A: After the Immortals semifinals routine, our social media exploded.

Q: We loved AcroArmy’s final performance to Fall Out Boy’s “My Songs Know What You Did in the Dark.”

A: That one was our best. It was the most dynamic, powerful, and fun to perform. I had the chance to do my favorite skill, “the swing.”  Our choreographers created it in such a short time.

Q: Has your life changed since being on the show? Do people recognize you?

A: Yeah, somewhat. You do have a credential for future reference if you’re looking for a job. Also, I have more Instagram followers! [Laughs]

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