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Personal Stuff

Frank Miles, juggler, entertainer, America's Got TalentA little about me, since you’re here reading about… me. I was born in San Francisco, CA, which in a large way shaped my life. I was a shy kid, even more so as a teen. Some of the people I wished I had the courage to approach at school were excited about street performing, which was very popular out there on Fisherman’s Wharf. I taught myself to juggle so I could join in their shows. They accepted me, and very soon I was hooked. Through the stage and through live performance, I’d found a way to connect not only with my schoolmates, but with people in general. I loved it.

Frank Miles, juggler, entertainer, America's Got TalentI turned down a scholarship to study at the University of California at Berkeley to pass the hat for pocket change as a street performer instead. You can imagine how thrilled my parents were. But I discovered I had a knack for entertaining people, and I knew I’d found my dream. I followed that dream to the bright lights and big shows of Las Vegas. Life was good.

But when things got good, I decided I’d better let good be good enough. I was working as part of a two-man specialty act, doing an eight-minute comedy juggling spot in the Follies Bergere. But there was so much more out there: stand up comedy, improv, acting, TV, film… Still, I was too afraid to give up the security of a good job and lots of applause. My big dreams seemed too risky. What if I failed? And strangely enough, the lack of interest I began to feel in the safer life I’d chosen led to me taking some truly insane risks. I just didn’t care anymore. I wasn’t afraid to die. What happened was–and I wouldn’t understand this until much later–that I was afraid to live.

Frank Miles, juggler, entertainer, America's Got TalentIn addition to rock climbing with no ropes or gear, I decided to try my hand at hang gliding. With no lessons. No surprise, I crashed and injured myself badly. My heart stopped in the emergency room for a short time before they brought me back. And no, no lights or tunnel for me. What I experienced was waking up a day or so later, on a ventilator, and seeing the face of the intern who’d apparently first met me in the ER. “Dude!” he exclaimed with a big loopy grin, “You almost didn’t make it!” To help keep me from forgetting that, I have a fourteen-inch scar that goes around from the front to the back of my chest where they opened me up to remove the bottom of my torn up right lung. Yeah, it was a close call.

After multiple surgeries and some physical rehab, I had a second chance, and more than that I had a new perspective. The things I’d been worried about amounted to little more than hurt pride and bruised ego. So what if I reached for more and fell? I’d just survived a worse fall than that.

Frank Miles, juggler, entertainer, America's Got TalentI brought that hard won lesson into my shows, and people responded. They got it–the only sure bet in life is that if you don’t try you will fail. I’d found a way to pass that on along with laughs and thrills on top. This was what I’d been looking for.

Most recently I brought that attitude to an audition for America’s Got Talent. For me, just getting up on a stage before a TV audience of ten or fifteen million people is a triumph. I was the guy who was willing to settle for less. Now I get the chance to show a huge audience that no one can stop you from dreaming and taking a chance on that dream. No one but you.

When I’m not on the stage, I like to write. That’s another adventure I’m jumping into now with both feet. And I round out my days helping my true love, Jackie, rehabilitate orphaned and injured animals. That’s when I’m not playing with our rescue dog and three rescue cats. Frank Miles, juggler, entertainer, America's Got TalentOr the two bunnies. Or the cockatoo. Yes, it’s noisy and a little crazy here, but we love it.

Movie producer Jack Warner famously said, “If you want to send a message, call Western Union.” And true as that may be, I do still have a message for my audiences. There are things you can control in life, and things you can’t. It’s like the knives and half-million volt stun guns I juggle onstage. All I can do is apply myself to the handle. But when I do that, the other end takes care of itself. Keep your eye on the handle of your actions, your choices, your dreams too. The rest of life works itself out. You’ll see for yourself if you’re willing enough to give it a real chance. I did.