Amanda Gorman is the young poet laureate who stole the show and dominated internet searches when she performed a stirring original poem called The Hill We Climb during President Joe Biden’s inauguration. Days after the ceremony, it was publicly announced that Gorman, who was named as the first National Youth Poet Laureate in 2017, would make history yet again as the first poet to recite an original piece during the pregame show of Super Bowl LV. And she did just that.
Gorman’s poem, which she performed in a pretaped segment and was titled Chorus of the Captains, paid homage to three honorary game captains chosen by the NFL for their work helping others amidst the coronavirus pandemic. According to a news release from the league, the three captains include educator Trimaine Davis, nurse manager Suzie Dorner and Marine Corps veteran James Martin. Gorman’s performance aired before the three captains were introduced on the field. Watch the poem below or here:
— NFL (@NFL) February 7, 2021
Amanda Gorman Was Invited to Participate in the Super Bowl Pregame Show Before the Inauguration
Gorman, 22, attracted national attention during and after the presidential inauguration. As Variety reported, she picked up more than two million Instagram followers in about 24 hours and another million on Twitter. She was lauded both for the inspiring verses in her poem The Hill We Climb as well as for her passionate delivery. Former President Barack Obama praised her for delivering “a poem that more than met the moment.” Oprah Winfrey wrote on Twitter, “I have never been prouder to see another young woman rise!”
But the inaugural ceremony did not actually lead to the Super Bowl invitation. Gorman clarified in an Instagram post that she had been in talks with the NFL several weeks before the inaugural committee had even reached out to her. (Gorman told the Associated Press the Biden team called her in December about becoming the youngest inaugural poet in history after Dr. Jill Biden recommended her for the role).
Gorman explained on Instagram on January 28 that she was “humbled” by the Super Bowl opportunity and that she was excited for poetry to be placed “at the forefront of the most-watched U.S. television broadcast.” Gorman expressed that she was excited to honor the “three heroes who have served their communities during the coronavirus pandemic.”
Gorman further explained, “I also wanted to be the first to say that while it’s easy to say that this opportunity must’ve came from my inauguration fame, I’ve actually been talking with the Super Bowl team for weeks now, far prior to the invite to and announcement of my participation in the inauguration. When I was called with the idea of honoring these three amazing change-makers, I was so touched by their altruism.” Gorman
Gorman added that the segment was filmed in her hometown of Los Angeles “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.”
Gorman Was Featured on the Cover of Time Magazine & Was Interviewed by Michelle Obama
Since the inauguration, Gorman has graced the cover of Time’s new special edition titled “The Black Renaissance.” Gorman’s icon, former First Lady Michelle Obama, interviewed Gorman for the feature piece.
Gorman first met Michelle Obama in 2016 when she was invited to the White House for a celebration honoring youth poet laureates from around the country. She told Girl Boss afterward she had been overwhelmed to meet the First Lady and was surprised she hadn’t fainted. “I just sputtered out, ‘I love you,’ Gorman told the outlet. “It’s like standing next to a goddess. I can’t even.”
Gorman and Obama spoke remotely for the Time interview. Obama asked Gorman about the “surge of creativity” in Black art and where she saw herself within the movement. Gorman responded in part:
We’re living in an important moment in Black art because we’re living in an important moment in Black life. Whether that’s looking at what it means politically to have an African-American President before Trump, or looking at what it means to have the Black Lives movement become the largest social movement in the United States. What’s been exciting for me is I get to absorb and to live in that creation I see from other African-American artists that I look up to.
On her inaugural performance, Gorman shared that she spent time in front of the mirror the night before the ceremony to practice her presentation. “Most of my preparation was stepping into the emotionality of the poem, getting my body and my psyche ready for that moment.” Gorman added that when writing the poem, she drew inspiration from writings by Frederick Douglass, Winston Churchill and Abraham Lincoln. She said she was also inspired by composers such as Hans Zimmer, Dario Marianelli and Michael Giacchino for their storytelling abilities.
Obama asked Gorman about the mantra she recited to herself just before she performs. Gorman explained that her mantra was inspired in part by composer Lin-Manuel Miranda (author of Broadway’s Hamilton) and calls on her lineage as the descendant of slaves. “I’m the daughter of Black writers who are descended from Freedom Fighters who broke their chains and changed the world. They call me.”
Toward the end of the Time interview, Obama asked Gorman to share advice for young girls about how to handle the spotlight. Gorman included in her answer that she is striving to have a lasting impact on the world and will not fade away after this moment of fame has passed. She also shared this answer on Instagram:
My question is do they have any advice for me. I’m new to this, so I’m still learning. I would say anyone who finds themselves suddenly visible and suddenly famous, think about the big picture. Especially 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’s 3 Upcoming Books Are Already Bestsellers & She Has Signed With a Modeling Agency
Gorman, who graduated from Harvard University in 2020, is already a published author and she has three books scheduled for release in 2021. One of those books came about after the inauguration. The text for The Hill We Climb has been compiled into a special edition book that includes a foreword by Oprah Winfrey. According to Penguin Random House, the book will be available on March 31.
Gorman’s other two books include a poetry collection called The Hill We Climb: Poems and a children’s book called Change Sings: A Children’s Anthem. Both are scheduled to be released later in 2021. But as Forbes reported, preorders for her books “skyrocketed” after the inauguration and have already reached the top of Amazon’s bestseller list.
Since the inauguration, Gorman has also signed a modeling contract. As CNN reported, Gorman joined the roster at IMG Models days after her powerful performance at the U.S. Capitol.