AGT: Gabrielle Union Says Singer Kodi Lee, Who Is Blind and Has Autism, Will 'Change the World'
Lee, who wowed audiences with his rendition of Simon & Garfunkel’s “Bridge Over Troubled Water” in the quarterfinals, advances to the next round in the competition and has quickly become a fan-favorite contestant.
And Union, 46, predicts great success for Lee, telling PEOPLE that he’s already changing the world. “Aside from reaching through people’s televisions, snatching their hearts out and making people feel something they never felt before, he changes the world,” the actress says.
“He’s making people believe in something they didn’t even know is attainable. He’s magic,” Union continues.
The 22-year-old singer, who was born with optic nerve hypoplasia and diagnosed with autism at age 4, has become a viral sensation, with his AGT audition footage garnering over 42 million views on YouTube alone.
“There are a lot of people in the world we put limits on. We say, ‘This is what’s good for you.’ We hold people back with our shortsighted thinking and our bigoted views. You have a family like Kodi’s who supports him and sees the beauty and the immense talent. They fought for those resources,” Union explains.
“Kodi’s family fought to make sure that he had a stage to be brilliant on — whether that stage was in their living room or on the world’s biggest talent show,” she says. “They never stopped fighting for him, that’s huge.”
Union wants audiences to view Kodi and his family as proof that any dream is possible with love and support.
“Stop holding your kids back, stop holding each other back. There’s so much more greatness that we can achieve if we actually believe in each other,” she says.
“I’m beyond proud of him, this whole thing has been magical,” Kodi’s mother, Tina Lee, told PEOPLE after his performance. “Just to see the way that people are accepting him and loving him, it’s magical.”
The proud parent added, “I feel relieved I’m not the only one who’s seen this extraordinary ability. He’s got a real talent, and I’ve always known he’s this real talent.”
Kodi, light artist Alex Dowis, Hough’s Golden Buzzer-winning singer Luke Islam, singing group Voices of Service, acrobat trio act Messoudi Brothers, comedian Greg Morton and singer Ansley Burns, who was named the Dunkin Save, all advance to the semifinals.
America’s Got Talent airs Tuesdays and Wednesdays (8 p.m. ET) on NBC.