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Fame is a relative word, and in the mainstream, Mat Franco is a fresh face, but to many in he campus market, he is already a favorite. The college market has been his bread and butter for the majority of his professional career, a career that has certainly been transformed over night by his winning this season of "America's Got Talent." Mat still knows how to dance with the one who brought him though. "I have been performing in the college market almost exclusively over the past few years. I started performing in the campus market when I was in college myself and then went into it full time once I graduated in 2010.
He put in a lot of hard work since then, and his win of 2013's "Best Male Entertainer" in Campus Activities Magazine's Reader's Choice Awards is evidence of that. Our Award may be slightly overshadowed by his most recent title, but it's an important landmark for someone only in the market full time for a few years and denotes his popularity in it. "Quote about AGT and CAM voting.
Mat credits the campus market with much of his career's forward progress and in fact, the stab he took at AGT was at the time really just a move to augment his campus presence. "When I first auditioned for 'America's Got Talent,' I did it just for the experience of it. I thought it might be fun. I expected nothing (laughs), I expected I wouldn't even get on the show. I thought 'Hey if I do, it'll make for some great video footage and be a great television credit. I had no idea what it was going to lead to the way that it has."
Those regularly touring performers have an edge in the format of AGT and other similar shows, which Mat quickly points out. "The results of the show are determined by popular vote. I have spent the last four years touring around the country, playing for hundreds of college students at the time over 100 (and sometimes 200) nights a year. I've been able to become a part of all these different campuses, and they were hugely supportive throughout the voting process. Just taking a glance at social media and seeing how many people are talking about it and sharing it proves that. There were even campuses having viewing parties and other events to help support me. It is incredibly gratifying and it gives me an even deeper appreciation for all the great relationships I have built in the campus market. The college market has been so supportive through the whole thing and there is nothing I can do but thank them constantly. That still isn't enough."
It doesn't matter what you do, practice makes perfect. Going through the grind day after day is what hones performers to their sharpest point and there aren't many markets that allow for more opportunity for this than for a regularly touring campus entertainer. "Performance experience is huge. Getting comfortable on stage is all about flight time and that is some-thing I have gotten a lot of over the past few years and really throughout my entire life. I have been doing magic on stage for as long as I can remember. My first show was in kindergarten."
It's not all grueling work though. "As much as it has been about a lot of practice, it's also about loving what you do. This is something that I truly enjoy, so as much as hard work has played a part in my success, so has the passion I feel for my craft. As long as it stays fun, I will continue to do it."
Every performer at one point was a kid with a dream, and usually somewhere deep down they still are. Whether its the young guitarist dreaming of amphitheaters or the aspiring painter who wants their work in the LouvreŽeveryone likes to dream big. Unfortunately for most, those dreams don't usually pan out, but every once in a while someone catches lightning in a bottle and does something like win "America's Got Talent" four years into their professional career. The funny thing is though, Mat was never consumed with dreams of celebrity and riches. His motivations for performing have always been much more pure.
"It's crazy. I am such an optimist, I have always just enjoyed what I was doing and believed things would come out fore best. I never obsessed over my level of success, because I always have believed things will work out. When I was a teenager doing shows anywhere that would have me from restaurants to private parties, I was always just happy to be doing what I was doing. Playing for elementary schools for example isn't what most would consider the pinnacle of live performance, but every step of the way I have always felt really good about it. Once I finished college and saw how fun it was to be with college audiences, I really wanted to pursue that, so I did. That seemed like the coolest thing in the world. I decided on a whim to go on this show and try to help the work I am doing because it would be a fun experience and now look at where I am," he says incredulously. "I really never expected to be where I am right now. Now I have no idea what to do with my life (laughs). All of these different opportunities have presented themselves over time and it has always seemed like right place, right time. Now with this huge opportunity sitting right in my lap it is really important for me to focus o what it is on what I want to do. Any time in the past several years when I have decided to concentrate on something specifically, it has been the most efficient way for me to achieve my goals. Now I am in the position where I am being pulled in many different directions and I have to make some hard decisions about where I want my attention to land primarily."
Wherever his focus lands, it's quite likely that the college market will continue to be an area of importance for Mat. "When I made the decision to focus on the college scene several years back is when things started to really flourish for me and I felt like I was headed in the right direction. Now it is important for me to zone in on how I want to use this opportunity to continue to enjoy my work."
The interview for this story took place only three days after the big win and needless to say, this young man's head is still spinning. He is still working out the direction in which he wants to head. "When I started shooting for AGT, it was literally my first experience with on camera work. When we shot the audition out in Los Angeles in April, I was a complete newbie to the whole thing. I often feel like I still am, but the fact is I have done quite a bit of it now with all the rounds of auditions and eliminations I went through, and all the other TV spots we have done like 'The Today Show,' 'Live with Kelly and Michael,' 'Extra,' 'Access Hollywood' and others. I really have enjoyed that sort of hosting, emcee type of work. I look at Nick Cannon on AGT and it looks like he has a really fun job. I wouldn't mind possibly heading in that direction, to do some more on camera work and possibly hosting."
While possibly moving into the role of television host is an ideal goal for Mat, he is also realistic enough to understand that it won't happen over night, even with his AGT success. "I am still young and still like to travel so I definitely want to continue touring for parts of the year."
Then there's always the prototypical magician's dream. "Vegas is another possibility. We are here in Vegas now for the 'America's Got Talent Live!' show and as much as I love Las Vegas, I am not sure if this is somewhere I want to hang my hat yet, but we will see. Once I get some of these shows under my belt I will have a better handle on how I feel about that."
There's no doubt that right about now Mat is feeling something like Dorothy in the eye of the twister. He has calls and offers rolling in, quite enough to make his head spin at this point. Time will tell where he lands once the dust settles but again, it is apparent that the campus market is important to him regardless of his newfound fame and success. "I am trying to figure it all out. You have to realize these few months and especially last couple of weeks and days following AGT, it is really important for me to make the right decisions at this time. Just before this interview, I actually just got off the phone with Terry Fator, who was the winner of the very first season of AGT. His name is synonymous with Vegas now, but he was great to talk to me about some of the ins and outs of his life just after he won and school me on some of the right and wrong decisions he made. He told me about his experience with the show and impressed upon me that above all else, it is important to sit back, take some time to think carefully and clearly and make the right decisions for myself at this time. There are obviously many different people who would like me to go in many different directions, but I have to make sure I don't get pulled apart in the process. The campus market has been great to me so far, and I think it will be a great net for me to have while I figure all of these other things out. It's the place I know I have a home and plenty of opportunities to perform and I am looking forward to doing so more."
For more information on booking Mat Franco, contact Franco Talent Agency at (401) 236-8638 or firstname.lastname@example.org