Darci Lynne Farmer of Oklahoma City knows what it’s like to have a dream come true.
“It felt really good to have almost a whole state rooting for me and supporting me,” says the 14-year-old ventriloquist, who felt the love from her fellow Oklahomans when she won the top prize on NBC’s America’s Got Talent in 2017.
Now on a nationwide tour, Darci Lynne has had little time off since sailing through the competition during the 12th season of America’s Got Talent. Winners are determined by votes from the viewing audience and, according to the show’s website, Darci Lynne received the most votes ever for a finale. She also secured a place in the hearts of many of the show’s fans and Oklahomans alike.
The story of how a then-12-year-old girl won a national talent search as a singing ventriloquist is as down-to-earth as the girl herself. Her family enjoyed watching the show together, so one day Darci Lynne had a thought.
“What if I went on? That would be so much fun if I just kind of gave it a shot,” she says.
As she progressed through the competition, the excitement drove her, although she says that with each round she thought she’d get voted off. But she didn’t – and she was completely surprised by her victory.
“It was just a crazy experience, but it was so much fun,” she says.
Darci Lynne has appeared on talk shows such as Ellen and Today. Her ventriloquism act, Darci Lynne and Friends Live, keeps adding sites and dates well into 2019. And she hosts Darci Lynne: My Hometown Christmas on Dec. 11 on NBC.
“I’ve gotten to meet a lot of people and do a lot of fun things since winning,” she says. “So, it’s been really, really great.”
Darci Lynne began performing early in life. Her mother wanted her to build self-confidence and overcome a touch of shyness, so Darci Lynne started competing in pageants. She recalls that at her first pageant, when she was 6, she was scared of the talent portion. However, after watching other girls compete and with encouragement from her mom, Darci Lynne decided she could do it. So she did a tap dance routine to “Singin’ in the Rain,” complete with yellow raincoat, and won.
When she was 9, at another pageant, she met a girl who did ventriloquism, and immediately became interested in learning the technique.
“I was just in awe of what she did,” she says. “I was like, ‘Oh my gosh, Mom, that is so cool. I really want to try that.’”
Her parents were skeptical and even told her no when she first asked for a puppet.
“They thought it would just be a passing fad,” says Darci Lynne, who kept practicing in her bathroom mirror.
She says she finally got a puppet for her 10th birthday because she didn’t stop asking.
By this point as a performer, Darci Lynne was singing, so, when she learned ventriloquism, she combined the two talents. The girl who used to be shy and self-conscious had become a full-fledged performer, and the road to America’s Got Talent was paved.
Onstage, Darci Lynne is surrounded by a cast of characters (the “Friends” in her show) from her imagination, starting with that first puppet from her 10th birthday; she would become Katie, the slightly cheeky but lovable cowgirl. There’s also a diva rabbit named Petunia, a sarcastic old woman named Edna and a Motown mouse named Oscar. Darci Lynne says developing a puppet’s character is not quick.
“Sometimes I have to sit down and think about it hard,” she says. “And then sometimes it just comes to me when I’m doing the randomest things, like brushing my teeth or fixing my hair or something like that.
“They all kind of evolved; they’re all still evolving now. They gain new personalities; sometimes they lose some. It’s really a process. It doesn’t just take a week and you’re done; it takes a really long time.”
As Darci Lynne has developed characters and achieved stardom in her young life, one might wonder if she’s changed. Perhaps she’s moved on from her Oklahoma roots. She disagrees.
“I think I’m just the same person … just the same ol’ Darci.”