No one has had a better year than Amanda Gorman. Thus far, the young poet has performed in front of world leaders, landed a spot at Super Bowl LV and scored a deal with IMG Models. Now, she's sitting down with former First Lady Michelle Obama. During a one-on-one interview with the former First Lady, the two talked about unity, pressure and social justice among other things.
"What was your experience of the Inauguration itself? Were you able to listen to the performances and speeches, or were you just focused on what you came to do?" the former First Lady asked.
"I was living in two spheres of my mind. There was the 'Wow: Joe Biden’s speech was amazing. Lady Gaga just killed it.' But at the same time, 66% of my brain was dedicated to questions: 'How am I going to get up to the podium without tripping? My hands are cold. Am I going to be able to flip these pages because my fingers are going numb?'" Gorman replied.
One of the more interesting portions of the conversations revolved around Gorman's newfound fame. She performed for the likes of Oprah Winfrey and Lin-Manuel Miranda before Inauguration Day, but her performance on January 20 was the most public of her young, yet distinguished career. Many onlookers applauded her and referred to her as a symbol of hope. For any 22-year-old, being labeled as a symbol of hope for a divided county is a lot to bear. Knowing a thing or two about pressure and responsibility, Obama asked her about how she's handling it all.
"It seemed like the Inauguration hadn’t even ended before folks were calling you a symbol of hope. I know a thing or two about having that kind of pressure put on you, and it isn’t always easy. How are you handling it?" the bestselling author asked.
"When you’re first rocketed into a type of visibility, you’re trying to represent your best self without having the best resources. For Black women, there’s also the politics of respectability—despite our best attempts, we are criticized for never being put-together enough; but when we do, we’re too showy. We’re always walking this really tentative line of who we are and what the public sees us as. I’m handling it day by day. I’m learning that 'No' is a complete sentence. And I am reminding myself that this isn’t a competition. It’s me following the trajectory of the life I was meant to lead," the inaugural poet responded.
In the face of pressure, Gorman remains confident in who she is, what she has accomplished and what she can become. Look out world, Gorman is not done with you yet and she is empowering a generation of young, Black women to do the exact same.
"One last question: Do you have any advice for young girls, and Black girls in particular, who earn their way into the spotlight?" the Becoming author asked.
"For girls of color, we’re treated as lightning or gold in the pan—we’re not treated as things that are going to last. You really have to crown yourself with the belief that what I’m about and what I’m here for is way beyond this moment. I’m learning that I am not lightning that strikes once. I am the hurricane that comes every single year, and you can expect to see me again soon," Gorman stated.
Gorman will take her talents to Tampa, Florida to perform at Super Bowl LV between the Kansas City Chiefs and Tampa Bay Buccaneers on February 7.
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