Michelle Obama Interviewed Inaugural Poet Amanda Gorman Ahead Of Super Bowl Performance

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Photo credit: Dave Kotinsky - Getty Images
Photo credit: Dave Kotinsky - Getty Images

From Women's Health

Amanda Gorman is used to making history—and now she’s about to do it again. The 22-year-old, who was the youngest poet to write and recite a piece at a presidential inauguration, is now going to be the first poet to speak at the Super Bowl.

Gorman wrote on Instagram that she’s "so humbled" by the opportunity. "What’s most exciting for me isn’t just the placement of poetry at the forefront of the most watched U.S. television broadcast, but that this poem will honor three heroes who have served their communities during the coronavirus pandemic," she wrote, adding that she "can’t wait" for viewers to hear the stories of these "inspiring people."

The Change Sings author also pointed this out: She’s been talking to the Super Bowl team since before she was invited to be the inaugural poet. "When I was called with the idea of honoring these three amazing change-makers, I was so touched by their altruism," she said. "We filmed this segment from my hometown following strict Covid protocols. After all that hard work and the weeks of writing, I’m so ready for the ode to these three warriors to kick off the Super Bowl 🙏🏿."

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That’s not all Gorman's got going on at the moment. She was also recently interviewed by former first lady Michelle Obama for Time. While Amanda Gorman has become a household name over the past few weeks, there’s plenty to learn about her. Here’s what you need to know about this trailblazing poet.

She practiced her inaugural poem in the mirror.

In her interview with Michelle Obama for Time, Gorman shared that she didn’t get to practice her inaugural poem, The Hill We Climb, as often as she wanted. "When I first wrote the poem, I was thinking that in the week leading up to the Inauguration I would be rehearsing every day," Gorman said. "But everything was moving so quickly, I actually didn’t get to really sit down with the text until the night before." Gorman said that most of her preparation for reading the poem was "stepping into the emotionality of the poem, getting my body and my psyche ready for that moment. There was a lot of the night-before performing in the mirror."

Gorman says she's 'terrified' before she performs.

The poet shared with Obama that she recites a mantra that was inspired by Lin-Manuel Miranda’s "Song of the Ancestors" from Moana. "Whenever I listen to songs, I rewrite them in my head," she said. "That song goes: 'I’m the daughter of the village chief. We’re descended from voyagers who made the way across the world.' Something like that. Sorry Lin."

She continued, "I really wanted something that I could repeat because I get so terrified whenever I perform. So my mantra is: 'I’m the daughter of Black writers who are descended from Freedom Fighters who broke their chains and changed the world. They call me.' I say that to remind myself of ancestors that are all around me whenever I’m performing."

Still, she’s used to making history.

Fun fact: Gorman became the youth poet laureate of Los Angeles at 16—the youngest ever—and was the first national youth poet laureate three years later, according to the New York Times. In case you’re not familiar with the term, a poet laureate is a poet who is officially appointed by a government or institution. They usually create poems for special events. Basically, it's a BFD.

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Dr. Jill Biden is a fan.

Jill convinced the inaugural committed that Gorman would be a good fit, according to the Los Angeles Times. In fact, Jill contacted Gorman in December about writing an original poem for her husband’s inauguration after seeing a reading of her poem “In This Place: An American Lyric,” delivered at the Library of Congress in 2017, Vogue reports. “I’m not saying I’m better than anyone else, but I was called by the Bidens for a reason, and this moment has called me for a reason, so all I can do is show up and do my absolute best,” she told Vogue. “That’s all I can ask of myself.”

…and so is Oprah.

Gorman told Vogue that Oprah sent her a pair of earrings to wear for the inauguration. “Every single time I get a text from [Oprah] I fall on the floor,” she said. “[Fashion] has so much meaning to me, and it’s my way to lean into the history that came before me and all the people supporting me.”

Gorman has two books coming out in September.

This fall, Gorman's debut poetry collection, The Hill We Climb, will be published by Viking Books for Young Readers, and it will include the inaugural poem. (FYI: The inaugural poem itself is already available to buy in book form.)

Her debut lyrical picture book, Change Sings, with illustrations by Loren Long, also comes out on the same day. In the picture book, a young girl leads people on a musical journey. Along the way, they learn that they have the power to make changes in the world, in their communities, and in themselves.

Her mom is a teacher.

Gorman told the Los Angeles Times that this had a “huge impact” on her and her love of poetry.

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She has a speech impediment.

Gorman told the Los Angeles Times that it gives her anxiety about the quality of her work. “For me, there was this other echelon of pressure, which is: Can I say that which needs to be said?” she said, noting that she particularly struggles with the letter R.

“But I don’t look at my disability as a weakness,” Gorman told the Times. “It’s made me the performer that I am and the storyteller that I strive to be. When you have to teach yourself how to say sounds, when you have to be highly concerned about pronunciation, it gives you a certain awareness of sonics, of the auditory experience.”

Gorman's got amazing style.

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Her Instagram posts are filled with quotes, poems, and information about upcoming talks, but it’s hard to miss the fact that Amanda can pull together some head-turning looks.

And she's a model now, too.

Gorman signed with IMG models, one of the world’s biggest modeling agencies, just days after the presidential inauguration, according to CNN. Gorman hasn’t publicly commented on her new gig, but it’s worth noting that she has an entire Instagram Story dedicated to fashion. Gorman also told Vogue that fashion "has so much meaning to me."

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