Amanda Gorman graces the May cover of 'Vogue'

She talks about how Black feminism informs her writing and activism.
Published April 7, 2021 2:44 p.m. EST
Vogue Vogue

Just a few months after gracing the cover of TIME Magazine, Inauguration poet Amanda Gorman is now the cover story for the May issue of Vogue, where she is continuing her discussion of Black excellence and resistance; the power of poetry in politics; and why Black intersectional feminism is inherent in all of her writings.

Realizing that she is perhaps the only poet laureate with a modelling contract with IMG, Gorman made sure to tell Vogue reporter Doreen St. Félix that she is very selective about which brands she poses for. 

Estimating she's turned down around $17 million in brand offers, Gorman says, "I have to be conscious of taking commissions that speak to me,” and St. Félix notes that Gorman is "wary about being perceived as a model" after signing with IMG, which was actually in the works long before she stood at the inauguration podium and recited her now-iconic “The Hill We Climb” poem to a watching world. 

Luckily, Vogue is a shoot she was willing to do, because the photographs, shot by the legendary Annie Leibovitz and styled by Gabriella Karefa-Johnson, are astounding. The main cover features Gorman wearing Louis Vuitton by Virgil Abloh in a look celebrating the poet's African heritage. In another cover look, Gorman is photographed wearing Dior.

“When I’m part of a campaign,” she says, “the entity isn’t my body. It’s my voice.”

It's no coincidence Gorman has turned into the force she is; she revealed during the course of the interview, which took place over several days with St. Félix, that her mom has been shaping her greatness from the very beginning. Joan Wicks, a teacher, barely allowed TV (Amanda and her twin sister Gabrielle had to prove to their mom that shows like Kim Possible had good enough politics for viewing) and prioritized creativity and education above all.

Gorman also shared details about her relationships with policymakers and cultural figures, and we’re not taking just anybody here. Gorman describes former Secretary of State and Presidential candidate Hillary Clinton as "such a grandma," calls former President Barack Obama "dad-like," and refers to former FLOTUS Michelle Obama as “the cool auntie.”

And what should we have expected? The 23-year-old's iPhone contacts list boasts none other than Oprah Winfrey!

“Every time I text Oprah, I have a mini–heart attack,” Gorman jokes in the interview.

Her drive plus these powerful connections have led Gorman to even announce that she wants to be president someday, and St. Félix writes that she has these big names on her side.

“She notes that she has the unofficial endorsements of Hillary Clinton and Michelle Obama. That’s why you won’t find any ‘negativity’ on her social media[…]; any image, of her ‘at a party’ or ‘in a bathing suit,’ that might be construed by future pundits as less than savory,” St. Félix writes.

“Black women will know this form of adaptation. It’s an accommodation to a scrutinizing eye, and it’s now natural for Gorman. She finds satisfaction in being able to set boundaries.”

After achieving so much, including having two best-selling books on Amazon, Gorman is quick to note that her success is the result of help from all facets of her life, and she couldn’t have done it alone.

“It took so much labor, not only on behalf of me, but also of my family and of my village, to get here," she says.

Reading from an entry she wrote in her personal journal on the night of the Inauguration, she tells St. Félix, “I’ve learned that it’s okay to be afraid. And what’s more, it’s okay to seek greatness. That does not make me a black hole seeking attention. It makes me a supernova.”

She’s also going gentle on herself with all of her success, which has afforded her a tidy income and a sizeable apartment in basically unaffordable Hollywood.

“I’m trying not to judge myself,” she says. “When you’re someone who’s lived a life where certain resources were scarce, you always feel like abundance is forbidden fruit.”

But of course, seeing as how she’s still the tender age of 23, she couldn’t help but discuss her love of The Munsters and The Honeymooners, Lin-Manuel Miranda, Hamilton, Billie Eilish, Harry Potter, and a lot more.

You can read the in-depth Vogue interview here.

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