America's Got Talent Magician Dustin Tavella Reveals His Season 16 Confidence Booster That Fans Didn't Get To See

americas got talent dustin tavella season 16 champion nbc
(Image credit: NBC)

Major spoilers ahead for the Season 16 finale of America's Got Talent on NBC!

Another season of America's Got Talent has come to an end, and it was difficult to guess almost until the very last moment who would be named the next champion to claim $1 million and headline a stage show in Las Vegas. In fact, host Terry Crews opened the results episode by announcing that it was the closest finale vote in AGT history, so it was a suspenseful couple of hours before he finally announced that Dustin Tavella was the big winner of Season 16 ahead of teen aerialist Aidan Bryant as his runner up. Tavella has shared the confidence booster that viewers didn't see that helped get him to the top, and more of what fueled his victory.

Dustin Tavella spoke with CinemaBlend and other outlets following his big America's Got Talent win, which came after a final performance that featured a collaboration with Mat Franco, who was the first magician to win a season of AGT. It was Tavella's first AGT act that he could perform without the pressure of knowing that his fate depended on people loving it, but it also came with the pressure of waiting for the results. Tavella shared the feeling of performing under such unique conditions, saying:

Yeah, yeah, it was crazy. I feel like through this whole process, I've had my boy Danny Garcia here, he's over here on the side. Incredible, incredible magic consultant. He's been like a huge confidence boost for me to get to try and just do stuff. I feel like every time, I've gotten to be a little bit more confident in kind of understanding what I'm doing and knowing I have some incredible voices behind me. So yeah, being there today, knowing it wasn't getting voted on, I felt like I could relax a little bit.

The America's Got Talent judges commented throughout the season on Dustin Tavella seeming nervous in some of his performances. Although he actually explained that he simply gave that impression due to his excitement, he shared after his big win that having a magic consultant on hand helped boost his confidence and deliver his best. Danny Garcia was clearly key to the whole AGT process for Tavella, and in fact, Garcia took to social media to post an Instagram Story seemingly from one of the very front rows to congratulate Tavella. Based on the magician winning Season 16, it was clearly a magic match that worked, even though Garcia was an off-screen source of support that fans didn't see!

Of course, there were sources of support for Dustin Tavella that fans definitely got to see, as his stories about his wife and two young sons were part of what made him such a dynamic performer who could build connections with viewers even through a TV screen. He even mentioned his parents in his final act before voters would decide his fate, and he was happy to spread the credit around for those who gave him advice he needed to make it through the AGT process. Tavella explained:

I'd say the best advice that I've learned, probably the thing that I needed to hear the most, and the thing that I've heard from my wife and my parents and from Heidi [Klum], from the people I've worked with here, just people who continue to remind me just to be yourself. You know, on a stage like this, it's easy to compare it to people who have gone before you, it's easy to compare it to other magicians, people who've been doing this for a really long time. And I think my confidence really started coming back once I realized I could just be me and if people like it, that's amazing. If they don't, I can't be somebody else. So I would say that's the best advice I've learned and also the best advice I would give to anyone else trying to pursue the things that they love.

Nobody could say that Dustin Tavella's magic act was anything even approaching generic, or something that can already be found on the Vegas strip. He was repeatedly and deservedly praised for his storytelling ability along with the magic that just grew more and more confounding each week. Being himself on stage obviously worked for him, and helped with the boost in his confidence. Heidi Klum was actually one of the most vocal judges about Tavella seeming nervous on stage, so it's nice to learn that her comments were helpful enough to Tavella that he gave her a special mention shortly after becoming the Season 16 winner.

So, what was running through Dustin Tavella's head as he got closer and closer to be named the winner, and ultimately found out that he won the closest finals vote in AGT history? Well, he was up against a formidable four in the final five, with aerialist Aidan Bryant ultimately coming in second, comedian Josh Blue taking third, singer Brooke Simpson earning fourth, and golden buzzer-winning quick change artist Léa Kyle in fifth as the only golden buzzer winner to make the top five. Tavella explained what he was thinking right before Terry Crews called his name and announced him as the winner:

It's crazy because like, I think we all agreed beforehand, like none of us mind losing to each other. There was a ton of amazing acts on the stage. And I think the whole time, it's like, 'Man, it's just an honor to be here. It's an honor to be here.' And every person that goes, it's like, 'It's an honor to be here. It's amazing that we made it this far,' you know. So I think in the last moment, when there's two of us left, it's just the idea of like, I could win or not win, and I'm excited for who does win, but obviously, you hope that it could be you. So I feel like in that moment, it's like every emotion you could possibly feel in that one. Well, what seems like a half an hour probably was like a minute.

There was a lot for Dustin Tavella to process in not a whole lot of time up in front of thousands of people in the Dolby Theatre, not to mention the millions of people watching live from home, but it's touching to learn that the AGT finalists supported each other enough to not mind losing to each other. That sentiment echoes what Northwell Health Nurse Choir said about something unexpected they encountered in going last in the final round of pre-vote performances, and shows what Tavella was going through in the final moments before he knew he was the new champion.

It may be some time before Dustin Tavella hits the stage in Las Vegas, but his victory in America's Got Talent means that fans can definitely look forward to him headlining an act at some point. For some viewing options now that AGT is finished for Season 16, be sure to check out our fall 2021 TV premiere schedule to find what to watch and when to watch it.

Laura Hurley
Senior Content Producer

Laura turned a lifelong love of television into a valid reason to write and think about TV on a daily basis. She's not a doctor, lawyer, or detective, but watches a lot of them in primetime. CinemaBlend's resident expert and interviewer for One Chicago, the galaxy far, far away, and a variety of other primetime television. Will not time travel and can cite multiple TV shows to explain why. She does, however, want to believe that she can sneak references to The X-Files into daily conversation (and author bios).