Firechill | The Magic Stick Dancer

Filipino Ehrlich “Firechill” Ocampo Dazzles at America’s Got Talent

Pasadena, California – April 9, 2021.

On this day, professional circus artist Ehrlich “Firechill” Ocampo auditioned for America’s Got Talent. As a former Cirque Du Soleil talent, he is no stranger to the big stage. He performs with his leviwand, an illuminated stick that gives the illusion of it floating. His act was fun and energetic; it included turns, jumps and acrobatics, creating poetry in motion. 

From Ehrlich’s dazzling performance, you wouldn’t know that he hit his head on the floor after a failed backflip just a few weeks ago. He was even hospitalized for seven days after suffering nosebleeds, nausea, and severe headaches. 

Ehrlich almost gave up at that point. “That was one of the lowest weeks of my life, ever. I could barely sleep because of the pain and the painkillers I had to take. How could I hope to perform when I couldn’t even walk without feeling dizzy and nauseous?”

He also had financial troubles to deal with. Like most performing artists, the pandemic put him out of a job for over a year. He was already burning through his emergency funds, so getting hospitalized only added to that financial strain. 

But thankfully, help came. Family and friends sent messages, prayers, and financial donations. This outpouring of support helped Ehrlich rekindle his fire. “I was touched by their generosity. I knew then that I had to continue my mission of showing what Filipino talent can do, because so many believed in me when I couldn’t.”

The death of two friends due to COVID-19 also strengthened his resolve to continue. Losing Nio Manzano, who was part of his design team, and Burt Favorito, who was his best friend’s father, convinced him to make the most of the second chance he was given at life. 

“I realized how fleeting life is. At any time, we could be gone. So I had to take advantage of this once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. The show must go on.”

On March 31, just 4 days after he got discharged, Ehrlich Ocampo flew to L.A. He had only 7 days of quarantine to rest up before his auditions. At that point, he was still getting dizzy just from looking up and down, so the thought of doing flips again concerned him. 

When the day of the audition arrived, naturally, Ehrlich was nervous. He was about to perform on the world’s biggest, most watched stage–and he hadn’t done his entire set in 3 weeks. 

Fortunately, his muscle memory kicked in. He was able to do flips again just before the audition. So when his turn to perform came, he managed to give his best. 

He recalls: “It was important for me to represent my art, my country, and myself to the fullest. I felt great about my performance, as I know I didn’t let anyone who believed in me down.”

He hopes to inspire more Filipino performers to follow their dreams. “I am a big believer in Filipino talent. We are persistent, hardworking, and optimistic; qualities that help us overcome a lack of facilities and resources. I myself come from humble beginnings, but that has never stopped me from practicing my craft. That’s why I hope to use my experience and knowledge to help the next generation of Filipino talents succeed.” 

You can watch Ehrlich’s audition on the July 13 episode of America’s Got Talent. It airs at 8PM EST, or July 14, 8am Manila Time. 

Follow Ehrlich on his social media accounts: