Cillian O’Connor (14) pictured with Simon Cowell has been chosen to be a finalist in America’s Got Talent: Fantasy League, a spin off of the popular talent competition.

Simon Cowell picks young Meath magician to appear on spin off TV talent show

The young Meath magician who came third in Britain Got’s Talent last year is hoping to conquer America after being chosen by Simon Cowell to appear on a spin-off TV show.

Cillian O’Connor (14) is now a finalist in America’s Got Talent: Fantasy League.

On the premiere of the on NBC last week, Simon Cowell, Mel B, Heidi Klum and Howie Mandel took contestants through their paces to have a chance of being crowned winner.

Sixty acts from previous shows of the global TV franchise competed to make the final 40 and Cillian was selected.

He impressed Simon Cowell in auditions with his magic skills and the famous TV judge hand picked Cillian to be on his team.

Cillian said: “Judge had to pick 10 acts that they wanted and I am on Simon’s team. It was a shock to hear his voice coming on the phone saying ‘Cillian you’re on my team, you have a chance at winning this’,” he added.

The young magician says his mentor gave him advice during the audition process.

“Simon in so nice,” said Cillian. “He’s not as bad as people make him out to be. He’s calm and he’s nice to people. He interacts, he talks, he will give you tips on how he thinks you can improve your performance.

“After the auditions he invited me back to his trailer to talk to me face to face, that was nice of him. He gave me a pep talk and was really encouraging.”

Cillian, who flew to the US to film the series late last year, says although he can’t reveal much about how he got on in the competition, he hopes his appearance on American TV will be expose him to a bigger audience.

“To win this show would be a dream come true,” said Cillian. “The prize money is $250,000, which would be nice, but more importantly, it would give me the opportunity to expand to wider audiences, it would be good to become more international.”

On Britain’s Got Talent last year, the magician impressed with his tricks, and his story of dealing with Autism and Dyspraxia, and the audience and celebrity judges gave him a standing ovation.

The Drogheda Grammar school student told them how performing magic had helped him overcome the social awkwardness that came with his autism.

Cillian is also taking his own live show on tour, to Dublin, Belfast and the TLT Theatre in Drogheda. Joining him on tour will be Ryland Petry from America’s Got Talent.

He promised that it would be “a performance to remember.”

“If you loved by BGT performances, you are going to love the tour,” said Cillian.

“It will be bigger and better than Britain’s Got Talent. We are coming up with ideas and the moment and trying out different things, it’s very exciting,” he said.

“Before I started doing magic, my social skills and my fine motor skills were a lot poorer but magic was kind of a lifeline for me. Now with my tour, I’m able to bring people into my world and them believe in magic,” he added.

Cillian’s dad Richie O’Connor, who previously spoke about how “magic changed his son’s life” after he once struggled to make eye contact or interact socially, says he and his wife Elaine are “so proud” of their son.

“We are just walking around 10 feet tall all of the time,” said Richie. “He spoke at a TEDx event last year and he had a big conference with Stanford University in California for neurodiversity. He also performed for AsIAm, Ireland’s national Autism charity, and he is going to be involved with an international conference they are hosting later this year. He received the Rising Star Award from the Magic Circle last year as well.

“To have got to where he is now is absolutely unbelievable.”

Details of Cillian's tour are here.