Becoming a child star can often come at the detrimental cost of losing oneself, and often the external pressure of media, and now evermore with social media, can leave permanent damage on young talent. However, for Grace VanderWaal, who was the winner of America's Got Talent at only 12-years-old, her early rise to fame has only helped her to build and even stronger foundation as a singer, and a soon-to-be leading actress in the upcoming film Stargirl on Disney+. Now at 16-years-old, her early-found fame has led her to tap into a level of complex songwriting far beyond her years. Compared to the likes of Taylor Swift, and most recently Billie Eilish for the lyrical depth she produces, the gifted songstress is aiming to create a path unique to her own identity.
1. She Won America's Got Talent at 12 years old
Perhaps first amicably known as "the girl with the ukulele" on America's Got Talent in 2016, Grace VanderWaal wowed judges from her first performance. The jury of the time composed of Heidi Klum, Howie Mandel, Simon Cowell and Mel B became fond of the 12-year-old girl with an interesting voice and an undeniable stage presence, describing her frequently as: incredible, unique and authentic. Showing a level a maturity that far preceded her age, tough critic Simon Cowell even went as far to predict VanderWaal's future success to surpass Taylor Swift.
2. Her First Fans Included Katy Perry, Reese Witherspoon, Ellen DeGeneres and Taylor Swift
Though her success on America's Got Talent was left up to the American public to vote on each week, Grace VanderWaal garnered the support of Hollywood's A-list celebrities. Actress Reese Witherspoon posted about her on Twitter, talk show host Ellen DeGeneres invited her to be a guest on her show, and Taylor Swift sent VanderWaal a bouquet of flowers. Today, the girl from Kansas has amassed over 3.4 million followers on Instagram, and appeared on respected Forbes " 30 Under 30" list, joining the likes of new important figures in the music industry such as Camila Cabello, Post Malone and Billie Eilish .
3. She Doesn't Want Be Compared to Billie Eilish, Sia or Taylor Swift
With bourgeoning talent, and an impossible-to-ignore presence, it comes as no surprise that VanderWaal has not been able to escape the comparisons to her predecessors and peers. At the beginning of her career, the media called her "the new Taylor Swift" , a parallel which she refuted on a video posted on her Instagram account: “I have thought a lot about a subject that has been close to my heart for a long time. I don't want to be Taylor Swift. I just want to be me, so please stop the comparisons, " she said.
On Tuesday March 3rd, VanderWaal attended her first Chanel runway show, a rite of passage which for most fashion-lovers, remains only a dream. Paying the upmost hommage to the historic French design house, VanderWaal dressed in a full black and white Chanel ensemble, accessorized with a red quilted mini-bag and a stack of chains and a pearl necklace bearing the house letters. A fresh interpretation of the Parisian style, VanderWaal sat front-row alongside the singer Maggie Rogers , Belgian singer Angele and actress Margaret Qualley.
5. She will be making her acting debut in Stargirl, One of the Last Disney+ Productions
Adapted from the famous young adult novel by Jerry Spinelli, this story captures the classic narrative of the transition from adolescence to adulthood. Grace, playing the title character Stargirl "Susan" Caraway, embodies an eccentric youth full of life in high school girl who befriends Leo, a classmater of hers who is rather introverted. Well-received by movie critics, this teen-movie eloquently illustrates the insecurities, questionings inevitable growing pains of youth.