UVU Cheerleaders ‘Shake It Off’ With Taylor Swift At American Music Awards
OREM, Utah – Two Utah Valley University cheerleaders got the chance of a lifetime and joined Taylor Swift onstage for her performance at this year’s American Music Awards in Los Angeles.
Brett Kessler and Morgan Michaelis were cast as backup performers for the “Shake It Off” portion of Swift’s medley at the Nov. 24 show, where Swift was named Artist of the Decade.
“When I first got the phone call, I didn’t know if it was real,” Kessler said. “This is one of those opportunities that doesn’t happen to random people like me.”
The two were scouted at United Spirit Association camps and at the National Cheerleaders Association Summer Camp while performing with UVU’s cheer team, officials said.
After accepting the offer, Kessler and Michaelis were flown to California for five days of rehearsals and learning choreography.
“Being at the AMAs was super exciting,” Michaelis said. “Backstage, we got to meet singers like Shawn Mendes, Post Malone, and Thomas Rhett, but the best part was performing and seeing over 10,000 people cheering us on.”
They said despite Swift’s success, she made sure to show her appreciation to all of her performers.
“Taylor Swift is super, super sweet and personal,” Kessler said. “Being backstage, we saw that most other artists were strictly business and didn’t have much of a connection with their performers, but Taylor was very sincere and generous. She went out of her way and wanted an individual picture with each and every one of her performers.”
Kessler joined the UVU cheer team in January and Michaelis credited the team for helping him prepare for the opportunity.
“I never would have had this opportunity if it hadn’t been for what they taught me,” Michaelis said.
“We went from being on a normal college cheer team to performing onstage behind the biggest artist in the world and to a live audience filled with the biggest artists in the world,” Kessler said. “The casting director was looking for specialized skills, and I have those because I practice cheering every day with the UVU team.”