30-year-old Celina never felt comfortable in her own skin, much less onstage. But that all changed when she auditioned for America’s Got Talent on Tuesday night (June 10).
“In high school, I wasn’t like the other girls. I would take my brother’s clothes and dress like a boy,” she explained. Then, I would go into the girls’ bathroom and girls would be like, ‘Ew, why are you in here?’ People would make fun of me and I would run away and hold it because I was too scared of what they would say to me. I felt like how I was so tomboy-ish was wrong. It caused a lot of anxiety and I lost confidence to become a singer.”
“Even as an adult, people look at me and judge right away, like I’m going to do something bad or steal something,” she continued. “I’m here because I am tired of being judged. My dad always told me to stay true to myself and never give up.”
With her father beaming with pride nearby, Celina walked onstage and explained to the judges that she currently works security for a casino and is “training to be in law enforcement right now.”
When Simon Cowell asked her why she’s auditioning, she replied, “I struggle a lot with being accepted for the way that I look.”
“Well, you look great,” Cowell quickly responded, putting a smile on Celina’s face before adding that he has a “good feeling” about her.
Cowell was proved right, as the 30-year-old singer’s heartfelt rendition of Shawn Mendes‘ “Mercy” was enough to stir emotion in the audience–and wrap with a standing ovation.
Watch the full audition below.