A Disgruntled Simon Cowell Was Ultimately Won Over By Pole Dancing AGT Contestant, But Now She's Talking About The Stigma Attached

America’s Got Talent is the place to be on TV for a wide variety of acts that range from the shocking to the supremely talented to the downright questionable, and judge Simon Cowell wasn’t exactly thrilled when he learned that a pole dancer was on the roster for a chance to win $1 million and an act in Las Vegas. Dancer Kristy Sellars didn’t exactly get a vote of confidence from him before she started, but he changed his tune by the end, and now she has spoken out about it. 

Australian pole dancer Kristy Sellars was all smiles when she took the stage, but Cowell had a very different reaction as soon as she said she was there with a pole dancing act. In the audition episode (which you can rewatch streaming with a Peacock subscription), he immediately sat back in his chair, looking annoyed, and told his fellow judges that he considers it “just pointless.” A few minutes and one complex act to 2WEI’s “Hit The Road Jack,” and Cowell joined Howie Mandel, Heidi Klum, and Sofia Vergara in a standing ovation. Sellars later spoke with TMZ, saying:

As you can imagine, pole has a stigma attached to it. It has had for a long time, so I’m kind of used to that. And I love proving people wrong. I love kind of opening their eyes to different possibilities, because at the end of the day, it’s just a vertical piece of steel, so what you do with it is in your mind. So I didn’t even really register that his attitude was like that. I think I was so nervous, and Heidi was talking to me, and I was just very focused and in my frame of mind, because the act – if I miss one thing, if I’m one centimeter off to the side, it doesn’t work. So I was in my zone and I just wanted to do the best possible show that I could.

Pole dancing isn’t an obscure form of dance, and Jennifer Lopez has even opened up about how hard she had to train for a sequence in the 2019 film Hustlers, in which she starred as a veteran stripper. It’s possible that Simon Cowell was expecting a routine without all of the effects and storytelling that Kristy Sellars incorporated into her act! Even if she hadn’t gone so far above and beyond for AGT, Cowell could have surely agreed that her skills were vastly greater than what a TV personality showed off a few years ago

Whether or not Sellars broke any stigmas with her first performance is hard to say, but she should have another chance after being voted ahead by all four judges. She went on to address the different styles of pole dancing, as well as her own and why she loves it:

I think that there’s a place for all of the different styles, same as with all the different styles of dance. Yes, pole dancing can be sexy. Go, get it! Yes, pole dancing can be a sport. It’s basically gymnastics on a vertical piece of steel, which is another whole category. Yes, get it! I do the performance stuff. I love storytelling and I’m not offended if people think that because that’s their experience with it… It’s just another style, and it’s how you want to take it. If I can break some of that stigma, that’s amazing.

If she can continue to weave a storyline in with her incredible (and gravity-defying) dance moves on the America’s Got Talent stage, I for one can see her going a long way in the competition. Unlike shows like The Voice and So You Think You Can Dance, AGT has no limit on what kind of talents the performers can showcase, and the playing field is even for pretty much everybody who doesn’t get the benefit of a golden buzzer to make their dreams come true. If you missed her performance the first time around, check it out now!

There’s no saying at this point when Kristy Sellars will be back with another pole routine to dazzle audiences (and perhaps even Simon Cowell), but you can catch new episodes of America’s Got Talent on Tuesdays at 8 p.m. ET on NBC. The judges have been hitting their golden buzzers right and left, with the first of the season going to saxophonist Avery Dixon in the premiere, but those acts certainly aren’t the only ones who deserve the shot to keep moving toward their goal of the $1 million and Las Vegas stage show.

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. Resident of One Chicago, the galaxy far, far away, and Northeast Ohio. 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).