Tory Vagasy’s inspirational story includes living with a disability, taking the traditional path for a time, and then veering into the spotlight via TikTok (@once.upon.a.tory) and America’s Got Talent.

Tory, a member of Thespian Troupe 6063 of Pompano Beach High School, stepped onto the stage of America’s Got Talent and brought the entire house to its feet (minus the Grinch-y Howie Mandel). Tory sang Into the Unknown from the Disney film Frozen 2. (A clip of the song is in the video above.)

As a multi-hyphenate artist, Tory wears many hats including viral TikTok creator and party princess for kids’ parties (she loves kids!). Tory credits her experience as a Thespian in Troupe 6063 with helping prepare for her life as a performer. Here’s Tory’s story on growing up, her life in the theatre, and how she’s pursuing her dreams.

The Tory Vagasy with Stage Fright

Watching Tory shine onstage so powerfully makes it hard to believe that she suffered from stage fright in high school. “The first show I ever did was Seussical: The Musical, and my sister practically dragged me there kicking and screaming because I didn’t want to be a part of it,” she says. “I was so scared. I had bad stage fright. I had no interest in musical theatre, but I tried out, and I fell in love with it.” She performed her first lead role as Audrey II in Little Shop of Horrors, which eased her into the process of starring in a musical, since the role is performed offstage. She’s acted in shows ranging from Beauty and the Beast to Avenue Q, fine-tuning her gifts as a performer and preparing for the next chapter in her life.

Tory VagasyTory Vagasy’s career path began traditionally with high school theatre and then off to college. And then a gap year experience with social media catapulted her onto a different path that’s brought her success and her followers great joy and inspiration.

The Tory Vagasy Who Felt Like Elphaba

Tory cites the musical Wicked as an early influence on her musical theatre performing style. “Because I was really sick growing up—I have rheumatoid arthritis—I saw myself as an outsider, just like Elphaba,” she explains. “So, I really related to her character, because even though everyone was against her, she said, I’m going to defy gravity, I’m going to do it. And that resonated with little baby Tory.” She continued to train hard to learn how to perform the songs from Wicked, which are notoriously difficult. Followers on her social media fell in love with her performing style, as well as with her openness about her struggles with arthritis.

“Recently, on Instagram, I opened up about my illness. I’m a disabled performer, as able-bodied as I look. I have a disability, and it does affect me as a performer,” she admits. The response she’s gotten from followers assured her she did the right thing by sharing so openly about her disability. She says, “So many people have thanked me. I want to be able to talk about the days when I struggle, the days when I can’t get up because I’m in pain and my disability’s affecting me. It’s important to me, especially with the platform I have now, that I can be a voice about something I care about so deeply.”

The Tory Vagasy Who Took a Gap Year and Never Looked Back

After high school Tory completed one year at Broward College then took a gap year. She downloaded the social media app TikTok and that move changed her life. What began as a friendly competition with her sister on TikTok has led to more than 300,000 people following Tory’s videos of her belting musical theatre classics. Her unique approach includes recording herself singing in a bathroom, to take advantage of the excellent acoustics.

“I grew up singing, but it wasn’t until I did theatre freshman year that I took my voice seriously. I never had a vocal lesson growing up. I’m self-taught. My sister and I sang together and made ourselves into the performers that we want to be,” Tory explains.

As her online profiles continued to grow, Tory looked for opportunities to get noticed by people who could lead her to booking a job. America’s Got Talent, a reality show talent show, emerged as a possibility. After her virtual audition the show flew her to participate in the next level of in-person auditions in front of celebrity judges that included Simon Cowell. Tory describes her time on the audition stage as “the most rewarding feeling ever.” Armed with her spectacular voice and endearing authenticity, Tory is stepping into the next phase of her career as a powerhouse, inspiring theatre students along the way. 

Dylan Malloy is a playwright and director whose first play, THE ROCKET MAN, was adapted from a short story by Ray Bradbury and premiered in March, 2021. She attends Emory University as a playwriting major, with a double major in business on the arts administration track. You can find her on Instagram @dylan_writes.

  • Like What You Just Read? Share It!

  • Other Related Articles You May Enjoy

    Make Your Mark as a Multi-Hyphenate Artist

    Make Your Mark as a Multi-Hyphenate Artist

    Your combination of skills is as unique as your DNA.

    Jul 27, 2021

    Broadway Comes to the Heartland

    Broadway Comes to the Heartland

    Jana Robbins & Theatre Troupe 287 collaborate.

    Aug 03, 2021

    The Making of an Imagineer

    The Making of an Imagineer

    Discover how the magic happens!

    Aug 09, 2021