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Emma Greenhalgh talks importance of storytelling on 'America’s Got Talent'

Emma Greenhalgh sees her role as a supervising producer as much more than that; she is a leader; she is a decision maker; and most importantly, she is a storyteller. Working on hit reality competition shows, Greenhalgh knows the most effective way to captivate audiences is to tell a story, whether that be the heartfelt tales of the contestants or an emotional montage of the show’s journey. Greenhalgh’s passion for storytelling and her talent when conveying a clear narrative has made her a force in her industry and having worked on shows like Dancing with the Stars and The Voice, her work has been seen by audiences around the world.

Viewers across America found themselves gripped by Greenhalgh’s work once again last week during the Season 13 premiere of America’s Got Talent on NBC. With the introduction of each new contestant on the show, Greenhalgh is part of the team behind telling their story. She creates ‘packages’ that show behind-the-scenes clips of the cast, showing what their home life is like, interviews with family and friends, having pictures from their life and the perfect song to tie everything together. These packages are part of what gives the show heart, what helps the audience connect with the contestant about to walk out on stage. Through these mini-films, the audience learns who each person is, where they’re from, and what has led them to the America’s Got Talent stage. These stories can be funny, heartwarming, devastating, or even downright bizarre, but whatever the emotion, it helps the audience connect with who they’re going to see, helps them get behind them and root for them. The packages provide an extra layer to a talent show and Greenhalgh is proud to be one of the people making them.

America’s Got Talent really shows that anyone can live their dream. This is not a show about celebrities who have already become known for doing what they do. This is for everyday people to come and showcase their hidden talent, to share with the world something they can do that no one knows about,” said Greenhalgh.

This is Greenhalgh’s fifth season on the show after coming on during its eighth year, and she finds the experience as one of the most rewarding of her career. During her time with the show, she has seen performers go on to sign huge record deals and million-dollar contracts in Vegas. Driving down the Las Vegas Strip, she constantly sees billboard after billboard of acts that got their start on America’s Got Talent. It’s the biggest stage in the world to showcase talent and she loves being part of that opportunity.

“I love the show itself. I watch it even if I’m not working on it. Where else do you get to come to work and it’s your job to watch hilarious comedians, amazing singers, phenomenal dancers, jaw dropping danger acts and super talented kids! It’s pretty incredible that it is my job to film with these people, to watch them perform and to accompany them on their journey though the show,” she said.

America’s Got Talent is the number one show on summer television, and Greenhalgh works tirelessly to keep it that way. During the show’s twelfth season, she created the open that would set the mark for the entire series last year. Each season, the production team dreams up and pitches a variety of ideas to launch the new season. Last year, Greenhalgh had a seed of an idea about the journey of an audition sticker. It didn’t take long for her to write and pitch the idea. To really bring everything together, however, Greenhalgh knew she wanted to use the track ‘Pure Imagination’ from the original Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, but it had not been cleared for use in programming since Gene Wilder passed away. The music team approached Wilder’s son, who had control of his estate, and after seeing the cut of the open, he approved the use, saying he knew his Father would have loved it. It is this vision and determination that makes Greenhalgh such a talent.

“Working with Emma is an absolute pleasure and I feel so lucky to have her on my team. Not only is she an incredibly talented producer but she is also a great friend and to have that support and input on a show like this is absolutely invaluable. Emma is exceptionally creative and is also incredibly organized and attentive to detail. To have these two things combined is extremely rare and it’s what makes her such a talented producer. This show would not be the same without her,” said Matt Banks, Co-Executive Producer of America’s Got Talent and Britain’s Got Talent.

When Greenhalgh first began on the show six years ago, she started as a Producer, largely working in the field and then rose to Senior Producer and now Supervising Producer, and therefore her role has evolved and changed as the seasons have gone by.

Her responsibilities also change as the season progresses. At the beginning of the year she makes schedules, comes up with opening ideas, scripts and shoots, and then goes on the road during auditions. While the show is on the air, she conducts interviews and puts stories together, making sure they make the most of their weekly two-hour time slot. Her day can be anything from scouting locations, to working with editors, to finding music or scripting shoots. It changes every day, and that is why she enjoys it so much.

“It’s truly very uplifting and satisfying to be part of such a continuously successful show. Year in year out the ratings are amazing, and I love knowing I’m part of that. We work hard on this show, don’t get me wrong, it’s challenging and creative and fun and sometimes frustrating, but I think that hard work from all the team shows in the quality, and in turn, the success of the show. Each year when we see the ratings, we know that the hard work has paid off,” said Greenhalgh.

As Greenhalgh continues her work on America’s Got Talent, she plans on learning more and bettering herself along the way. She knows that there is always something new to learn in television, no two jobs are the same, and that a producer should never stop learning no matter how far they’ve come. This attitude is exactly why she is such a sought-after supervising producer.

Be sure to check out America’s Got Talent Tuesdays at 8pm on NBC.

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