Christian Stoinev, 22, is an Illinois State University ‘13 graduate and circus performer who has earned his spot on the ninth season of NBC’s “America’s Got Talent.”
Stoinev is a fifth generation circus performer and spent his childhood traveling with the circus. After his jaw dropping hand-balancing act on the June 17 episode, Stoinev is headed to the next round of “America’s Got Talent: Judgment Week.”
I had the privilege of interviewing the amazing acrobat and fellow Redbird over the phone to find out more about his experience on the show.
How did the Gamma Phi Circus prepare you for “America’s Got Talent?”
ISU just felt like the right place. It felt like people wanted you there. Being on the show was a huge motivator to bring attention to Illinois State and the Gamma Phi program. I hope to inspire other circus members to utilize their talent and to take it a step further shedding a bright light of respect on the program.
What was the best compliment the judges gave you after your performance?
Howard Stern said, “It’s almost like you’re representing your five generations before you, and you are making the circus really legitimate.” This was one of the most powerful things the judges said. When people hear ‘circus’ they think about a carnival … ‘circus’ doesn’t have a well-respected image but circus made me who I am today, took me to college and put me in a national spotlight. My goal through this experience is to raise the respect level for circus performers and to show the world how talented they are.
How strict is your workout plan and what exercises are necessary to have the kind of strength you exhibit?
Practicing within itself is a work out. I go to the gym five days a week and lift weights.
What are your goals after the show?
Well the dream is to obviously win and have my own show in Vegas, but I have a lot of dreams. But for right now, I’m taking it day by day and enjoying the moment. The experience on “America’s Got Talent” is a gift itself.
What do you like to do for fun? What is it like performing in front of so many people on national television? Do you get nervous?
I’ve been performing in front of crowds since day one. I wasn’t nervous in the beginning but the national spotlight definitely added pressure to the performance. Once I took the jacket off I didn’t even expect the reaction I got and just laughed. It felt like practicing and just being in a good mood. I was more nervous about the results, but after the judges stood up on their feet and sent me to the next round, I was thrilled.
How was your experience at ISU? What did you major in?
I was the first member of my family to graduate from college, and I majored in journalism. I was a part of TV 10 where I filmed my own segment covering basketball. Since I grew up traveling with the circus, it became harder to maintain friendships with the people I met on my tours. ISU finally felt like home, and I was able to build strong relationships with my friends and create a family within ISU and the Gamma Phi Circus.
Stay tuned to follow Christian Stoinev through his journey on NBC’s ‘America’s Got Talent.’ Judgment week will air on NBC July 22-23.