America’s Got Talent: The Champions celebrates 50 of the franchise’s top performers from around the world as they compete for the ultimate title of “champion.” One of the returning acts is the brother-sister rollerskating duo Billy and Emily England.
Billy and Emily’s act consists of daring stunts and death-defying tricks. In a video of their performance released ahead of tonight’s new episode, it was revealed that the duo have included their most infamous trick in their routine, in which Emily holds on to Billy’s beard and swings in circles from it while Billy spins.
Here’s what you need to know about Billy and Emily England:
1. They Have Been Skating Since They Were Children
Billy and Emily’s real names are Victor and Emilia Arata, and Mirror reports that they were raised by Italian-born father and Irish mother. They said that they changed their stage names because their older brother Vittorio, who performs as a rollerskater with his wife under their last name Arata, is not very supportive.
They come from a family of circus-style performers, and their mom was a successful trapeze artist. She trained the children for up to 10 hours a day since they were 4 years old; Billy told Mirror “Mum banned us from saying ‘can’t’ and pushed us really hard by teaching us never to give up. She taught us never to stop until we achieved perfection.” After Billy and Emily lost their dad (a former wire-walker) to skin cancer, they were inspired to perform together.
2. They Were Semifinalists on Season 12 of ‘America’s Got Talent’
After their appearance on Britain’s Got Talent, Billy and Emily competed on America’s Got Talent in 2017; young ventriloquist Darcy Lynne Farmer won that season.
When they returned to the “Got Talent” stage once again, GoldDerby.com points out that Cowell told them “I’m gonna be honest with you. So many people have said to me how surprised they were you didn’t win. So many people. And maybe this time you do have a chance at winning.”
3. They Have a Show in Las Vegas
Supported by the fame from their performances and popularity on the show, they are now a part of a circus show in Las Vegas called “Absinthe.” It has a residency in a white tent in front of Caesars Palace. According to Las Vegas Magazine, they have been with the show since 2015 and “their edgy performance — certainly the most risqué and stressful activity ever to happen on roller skates — creates an exciting tension in the audience.”
After season 12 of America’s Got Talent, they performed their act on Ellen to promote the Vegas show.
4. They Originally Appeared on ‘Britain’s Got Talent’
Billy and Emily were born and raised in Birmingham, United Kingdom. Before they competed on the “Got Talent” franchise’s original, US-based show, they competed on Britain’s Got Talent season 9 in 2015 and were semifinalists. Dog trick act Jules O’Dwyer and Malisse won that season.
According to NBC’s bio for the brother-sister act, judge Simon Cowell “remembered their impressive routine” from their original Britain’s Got Talent audition when they appeared before the judges on America’s Got Talent.
5. Their Aunt & Uncle Died From Stunt Performance Accidents
According to Mirror, their aunt was a world-renowned aerial silk performer; she died in front of an audience during a stunt gone wrong that dropped her 30 feet to instant death. Emily revealed that her grandmother was in the audience the day of the accident.
Less than three years after their aunt’s passing, their uncle fell to his death during a trapeze show that he performed with his wife. Billy told Mirror “Uncle Gilles used a leather neck-strap that had been passed down through his family for 50 years. He wouldn’t use any other strap because he was superstitious about it. But the strap broke and Uncle Gilles fell 20ft to his death.”