At the MTV Video Music Awards, the focus is usually on the many celebrities who attend the show, ready to celebrate their big years in music marvelousness. But this year, five teens gave Taylor Swift and Nicki Minaj a run for their money as the weekend’s brightest stars when they crashed the festivities for the wish of a lifetime.
Brandi, Stefanie, Bianca, Erykah and Juan hail from different corners of the U.S. and Canada, but they have two things in common: they have all been diagnosed with life-threatening illnesses, and they all requested to come to the VMAs through the Make-A-Wish Foundation.
Together, MTV and Make-A-Wish made their dreams a reality by giving these brilliant, deserving and contagiously enthusiastic teens the Best. Weekend. Ever.
On Friday, the group made their way to the Microsoft Theater in downtown Los Angeles to get a sneak peek at the bustling venue where all the fun’s going down Sunday night. To their surprise, they got one-on-one time with three of the most buzzed-about VMA performers: Tori Kelly, The Weekend and Justin Bieber (who promised to follow all of them on Twitter).
“We saw The Weeknd and he gave me a hug and he kissed me on the forehead,” Brandi, a 16-year-old from Florida with Cystic Fibrosis, shared with us. “It made me feel so special!”
“We also met Tori Kelly and not only does she have an amazing voice but she’s honestly the sweetest person ever,” Bianca, a 17-year-old from Nova Scotia with Systemic lupus, said.
After dancing the night away as VIPs at a Samsung-sponsored party where Rita Ora performed on Friday night, the group got to check out the red carpet the next day. There, they were interviewed by MTV News' Sway Calloway and were in for another surprise when Nick Jonas swaggered in to rehearse his pre-show performance. Yep, they saw Nick and his army of Moonwomen perform “Levels” on the carpet before anyone else. Nick ran through the song three times, and each time, he sauntered over to the group mid-performance to high-five them and croon right to their faces.
“He’s just such an amazing artist and I’ve been watching him since he was in the Jonas Brothers, and being able to see him in person just completed the moment,” Brandi said.
On Sunday, the group got beautified by pro stylists before making their big red carpet debuts and watching the show live and in person. So if the camera happened to catch five teens with the biggest, warmest smiles in the crowd, you know who it was. Because for one weekend, this group was more than their illnesses — they were true VMA royalty.
“It’s awesome to meet everyone else going through similar situations and experiencing something amazing like this with them,” Stefanie, a 15-year-old from Ontario with Chiari 1 malformation, said. “It’s just awesome.”
“Now that I’m here, knowing that I have MS (multiple sclerosis), I feel like I don’t even have MS anymore,” Erykah, a 16-year-old from Tennessee, agreed. “I feel free. Like a regular person, like I have nothing wrong with me.”