‘America’s Got Talent’ Producer Explains What He’s Looking for During Auditions

Jason Raff told TheWrap what kinds of acts catch his eye for the NBC talent competition

Last Updated: July 10, 2014 @ 8:44 PM

NBC’s “America’s Got Talent” just crowned its last winner, dancer Kenichi Ebina, last month and yet it’s already hitting the road in search of Season 9 contenders.

On Oct. 26, the show holds its first auditions for the upcoming season in Miami. It will then see thousands more acts over six more cities through February. Additionally, it will watch thousands of videos in order to whittle down the acts to those that will compete for next season’s $1 million prize.

“We look at all of them,” executive producer Jason Raff told TheWrap in partial explanation of the show’s year-round schedule.

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In Raff’s mind, there are a couple groups that he’s especially targeting.

“I try to reach two people,” he explained. “I try to reach people who have never auditioned for anything in their life before. I tell them it’s going to be fun and you’ll meet a lot of interesting people. You see such diversity there. You’ve got nothing to lose, we’re nice people.”

“Then, I try to get the acts that have been thinking ahout doing our show for years and just haven’t,” he continued. “Maybe, they’re a little more professional and don’t think it’ll help their career. They may not be fulltime but looking for the opportunity to take their career to the next level where they can have a career in Las Vegas.”

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So, what makes an act stand out? Raff told us a couple other things he’s looking for during auditions.

Bring your A-game. “You’re looking for everything that’s not mediocre,” he said. “There’s a lot of mediocre and you’re looking for that something special, that is different, that is surprising, something that wil give the judges something to say.”

Be unique. “Every year, there’s one thing that the winner always shares,” he said. “It’s always a little bit of a surprise.” He uses “Britain’s Got Talent” contender Susan Boyle and this year’s winner, Ebina, whose unassuming appearance fell away once he started his multi-media performances.

For information on audition locations, visit AGTAuditions.com.