"Go back to the drawing board, humble yourself and come back stronger," Gabrielle Union tells PEOPLE of the advice she would give to the semifinalists

By Karen Mizoguchi
August 28, 2019 09:00 PM

Gabrielle Union is heading into her first round of America’s Got Talent semifinals — and she’s encouraging contestants to bring it on.

The actress, who is enjoying her first time as a judge on the NBC series, wants to see acts level up in the next stage of the competition as the stakes are higher to win the $1 million prize and Las Vegas headlining gigs.

Applauding 10-year-old opera singer Emanne Beasha on her quarterfinals performance, Union tells PEOPLE: “She left a big impression. She literally was like an angel, got dropped down and was told, ‘Sing for us little angel.’ To be 10, she’s a virtuoso. She’s really amazing. I don’t think there are enough adjectives.”

As for the rest of the singers getting ready for the semifinals, the L.A.’s Finest star says it’s all about strategy. “I strongly suggest idiot-proofing the song choice,” she advises. “Pick a song that people are familiar with so they can have something to compare it to and recognize as brilliant.”

Gabrielle Union
Trae Patton/NBC

And for those non-singers, the Bring It On star recommends they “step it up,” adding, “Whatever you thought was good enough for the live shows, go back to the drawing board, humble yourself and come back stronger, bigger, badder and better. Leave it all out there.”

RELATED: AGT‘s Gabrielle Union Says Singer Kodi Lee, Who Is Blind and Has Autism, Will ‘Change the World’

Along with Beasha, Union’s Golden Buzzer-winning singer Kodi Lee, who was born with optic nerve hypoplasia and diagnosed with autism at age 4, is also a semifinalist. “I’m biased,” the mother of one jokes.

Terry Crews’ Golden Buzzer-winning Detroit Youth Choir, singer Benicio Bryant, magician Dom Chambers, magician Eric Chien and guitar player Marcin Patrzalek will move on to the semifinals. Comedian Jackie Fabulous was named the Dunkin Save.

Also competing in the semifinals are Lee, light artist Alex Dowis, Julianne 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.

In addition, dance troupe V.Unbeatable (who are Dwyane Wade’s Golden Buzzer choice), Light Balance Kids (who are Ellie Kemper’s Golden Buzzer choice), singer Robert Finley, comedian Ryan Niemiller, Ndlovu Youth Choir and singer Chris Kläfford have advanced to the semifinals.

America’s Got Talent airs Tuesdays and Wednesdays (8 p.m. ET) on NBC.

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