Youngest ever inaugural poet Amanda Gorman looks set to make the most of her moment in the spotlight after signing with elite modeling agency IMG, which also represents the likes of Gigi and Bella Hadid, Karlie Kloss, Ashley Graham, and Gisele.
The 22-year-old became an overnight sensation after performing her original piece The Hill We Climb at President Joe Biden‘s inauguration on January 20, and has now inked a deal with the New York-based agency, which will help her to sign lucrative brand partnerships and endorsements moving forward.
Amanda’s decision to join the top modeling agency comes less than a week after she received a standing ovation from the President, Vice President, and First Lady at the inaugural ceremony – as well as a slew of praise online from A-listers including Oprah, Lin-Manuel Miranda, and John Legend.
Ready for the runway? Inaugural poet Amanda Gorman has signed with Bella and Gigi Hadid’s modeling agency IMG, days after she shot to stardom with her performance at the event
In good company: The agency will help the 22-year-old, who is the youngest ever inaugural poet, to secure deals and endorsements in the fashion and beauty space
Although she has yet to be featured on IMG’s website, Amanda is set to join a host of very famous faces at the agency, which has long been considered one of the top fashion organizations in the world, boasting offices in Los Angeles, Paris, London, Milan, and Sydney, as well as its headquarters in New York City.
LA native Amanda already has an impressive line-up of representatives, having previously signed to WME as a public speaker, and Penguin Random House as a publisher.
However, it is understood that IMG will help the talented poet to branch out into the fashion and beauty space, potentially enabling her to capitalize on her post-inauguration fame with endorsements and partnerships from high-end brands.
IMG has represented some of the world’s biggest stars – both fashion-focused and beyond – over the past few decades, helping them to land deals with multiple big-name brands, from Dior to Ralph Lauren to Louis Vuitton.
Its models have also graced the covers of countless fashion magazines, including Vogue, ELLE, and Harper’s Bazaar.
As well as representing a host of models, the agency also represents talents like actors Cole and Dylan Sprouse, tennis star Maria Sharapova, and the ‘world’s most beautiful girl’ Thylane Blondeau.
Amanda will likely land herself a spot on the agency’s talent board, and will undoubtedly be lined up to sign deals with all manner of fashion and beauty brands moving forward – having been hailed as the inauguration’s breakout star.
The wordsmith has already proven herself to be a hot commodity for fashion brands; Amanda donned a bright yellow Prada coat and bold red headband for the inauguration, with Vogue reporting that the hair accessory promptly sold out in the wake of the event.
However Amanda also garnered plenty of interest beyond the brands she was wearing.
Shortly after the ceremony, the Harvard graduate did numerous TV interviews, during which she spoke out about how she overcame a lifelong speech impediment, while also opening up about how she formed a friendship with Oprah in the lead-up to the inauguration.
Style star: Amanda already proved herself to be a fashion favorite when she donned a bright yellow Prada coat for the inaugural ceremony
Fashion favorites: IMG reps some of the most successful models in the world, including Gigi and Bella Hadid (pictured on the runway at Paris Fashion Week in March)
Working hard: The agency represents both models and talents, helping the stars on its books – like Chrissy Teigen and Gisele – to secure lucrative brand deals
Amanda left a lasting impression on spectators when she took to the stage to recite her original piece The Hill We Climb, earning herself a place in the history books while shooting to global stardom.
In the wake of her appearance at the star-studded proceedings, which also included performances from Lady Gaga and Jennifer Lopez, the Los Angeles native has seen her books shoot to the top of the Amazon charts, she’s raked in more than two million Instagram followers – and been inundated with compliments from celebrities the world over.
But while Harvard graduate Amanda captivated millions with her confident and clear oration on Wednesday, she later revealed that the performance could not have happened a few years ago when she was still struggling with a lifelong speech impediment that left her unable to say several letters and sounds.
Much like President Joe Biden, who has been open about his battle with a stutter, Amanda has spent much of her life working to overcome her own impediment, a challenge that she says she could not have faced without the inspiration of the newly-elected leader that she performed in honor of.
‘President Biden has been super open about his stutter,’ she told Good Morning America on Thursday.
‘My speech impediment wasn’t a stutter but it was dropping several letters that I just could not say for years. Most specifically the R sound. It took until I was 20 to say it. [Which meant] that I couldn’t say words like ‘poetry’ or even ‘Gorman’ which is my last name.
‘I had to really work at it and practice to get to where I am today.’
The poem that Amanda so ably performed at the inauguration was testament to her hard work; the piece featured ‘rise’ several times, a word that the poet was unable to utter just a few short years ago.
‘I was kind of like why on the world did I put “rise” in my poem about five times,’ she joked.
‘But also it was this amazing full circle moment for me because if I’d written this poem three years ago, I wouldn’t have been able to say it. So it was me rising as well as the country at that time.’
Momentous: Amanda, who received a standing ovation from President Biden at the inauguration, looks primed to capitalize on her Capitol performance
A star is born: During the ceremony, Amanda mixed with a host of high-profile faces, including Lady Gaga, who also performed at the event
New pals! The young poet and her mother, Joan Wicks (left), also got to meet Barack and Michelle Obama, a moment that Amanda was quick to share on Instagram
New pal! Amanda, who is seen embracing Michelle, racked up millions of Instagram followers in the wake of the inauguration
Selfie time! She also got the chance to snap a candid photo with Hillary and Bill Clinton
President Biden was not the only member of his family to play a key role in Amanda’s ascent to the inaugural stage; his wife, Jill, was actually the person who found the young poet and invited her to perform at the auspicious event in late December.
‘When I was told by the presidential inaugural committee, I was overjoyed, I was grateful, I was honestly shocked,’ Amanda recalled.
‘I had not been expecting that at 22 they would trust me with such an honor. And I was also daunted at the same time, I was honestly scared of writing such a poem, I wasn’t sure if I could do it justice. But I’m so glad that I put my best foot forward and did it.’
In preparing for the inauguration, Amanda revealed to CNN’s Anderson Cooper that she did ‘a lot of research’, including reading all of the previous inaugural poems and doing ‘a deep literature dive’, referring to the works of other orators that she looks up to, including Frederick Douglass and Abraham Lincoln.
But she also had a helping hand in getting ready for the milestone moment from her star-studded new pal Oprah, who reached out to Amanda ahead of the inauguration to offer to buy her something special to wear at the ceremony.
The TV legend purchased the coat and gloves that the late Maya Angelou wore during Bill Clinton’s inauguration in 1993 and wanted to continue the tradition, the young poet shared.
‘Oprah wrote to me – and we’ve been in touch for a while now – saying, “I bought Maya Angelou’s coat and gloves when she performed the poem at Clinton’s inauguration, and I’d love to continue the tradition and buy something for you.”
Style star: As well as earning praise for her performance, Amanda was also applauded for her chic ensemble, which featured a bright yellow jacket and bold red headband, both from Prada
Lucky: She revealed that new friend Oprah bought the ring and earrings and wore. The ring has a caged bird in it to symbolize Maya Angelou’s biography I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings
Support: Oprah Winfrey took to Twitter shortly after the inauguration to share how ‘proud’ she was of Amanda – who performed her own original poem, The Hill We Climb
Connection: Amanda revealed to GMA on Thursday morning that she and Oprah have been in close contact in recent months, and have formed a close friendship
‘So what we settled on was this ring, which if you look has a caged bird inside, and for me that was to symbolize my idol Maya Angelou who wrote the great autobiography I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings.
‘And that way I could feel like I had Maya close in continuing her tradition.’
Oprah – who paid tribute to Amanda in a sweet tweet posted after her performance – also bought her a pair of earrings to wear for the event, which she paired with a bold red headband and a yellow coat, both from Prada.
‘She was just so generous in making sure I felt prepared, both emotionally and fashionably for the moment,’ Amanda said.
Oprah was not the only famous face to praise Amanda’s performance.
Regina King, Barack Obama, John Legend, and Lin-Manuel Miranda were among the high-profile names who took to Twitter to celebrate her inaugural appearance – and Lin-Manuel later surprised the poet with a special video message during her GMA interview.
‘Congrats on yesterday!’ he told a stunned Amanda.
Famous fan: Hamilton star Lin-Manuel Miranda was also full of praise for the young poet
Shock: During her appearance on GMA, Amanda spoke of her reaction at being asked to perform at the inauguration, admitting that she was ‘daunted’ by the ‘honor’
Surprise! She received a special message from Lin-Manuel during her interview, in which he told her that she has ‘changed the world’
Applause: Barack Obama and Regina King were also among the famous faces to heap praise on the young star – who is now being urged to run for President in 2036
‘The right words in the right order can change the world and you proved that yesterday with your brilliant piece.
‘I’m so incredibly proud of you and I can’t wait to see what you write next. Keep changing the world one word at a time. You smashed it.’
Celebrity supporters aside, Amanda’s inaugural performance has earned her a legion of new fans – and given her career a significant boost.
In the wake of the event, her Instagram following topped two million, a number that is continuing to climb, and her two upcoming books shot to the top of the Amazon bestseller list, landing in the number one and number two spots.
Both books are not due to be published until September, however the influx of pre-orders has already turned them into bestsellers.
The first, entitled The Hill We Climb after her inaugural poem, is her debut collection of poems, while the second is a ‘lyrical picture book’ aimed at children called Change Sings.
The Hill We Climb: Amanda Gorman’s inauguration poem in full
When day comes we ask ourselves,
where can we find light in this never-ending shade?
The loss we carry,
a sea we must wade
We’ve braved the belly of the beast
We’ve learned that quiet isn’t always peace
And the norms and notions
of what just is
Isn’t always just-ice
And yet the dawn is ours
before we knew it
Somehow we do it
Somehow we’ve weathered and witnessed
a nation that isn’t broken
but simply unfinished
We the successors of a country and a time
Where a skinny Black girl
descended from slaves and raised by a single mother
can dream of becoming president
only to find herself reciting for one
And yes we are far from polished
far from pristine
but that doesn’t mean we are
striving to form a union that is perfect
We are striving to forge a union with purpose
To compose a country committed to all cultures, colors, characters and
conditions of man
And so we lift our gazes not to what stands between us
but what stands before us
We close the divide because we know, to put our future first,
we must first put our differences aside
We lay down our arms
so we can reach out our arms
to one another
We seek harm to none and harmony for all
Let the globe, if nothing else, say this is true:
That even as we grieved, we grew
That even as we hurt, we hoped
That even as we tired, we tried
That we’ll forever be tied together, victorious
Not because we will never again know defeat
but because we will never again sow division
Scripture tells us to envision
that everyone shall sit under their own vine and fig tree
And no one shall make them afraid
If we’re to live up to our own time
Then victory won’t lie in the blade
But in all the bridges we’ve made
That is the promise to glade
The hill we climb
If only we dare
It’s because being American is more than a pride we inherit,
it’s the past we step into
and how we repair it
We’ve seen a force that would shatter our nation
rather than share it
Would destroy our country if it meant delaying democracy
And this effort very nearly succeeded
But while democracy can be periodically delayed
it can never be permanently defeated
In this truth
in this faith we trust
For while we have our eyes on the future
history has its eyes on us
This is the era of just redemption
We feared at its inception
We did not feel prepared to be the heirs
of such a terrifying hour
but within it we found the power
to author a new chapter
To offer hope and laughter to ourselves
So while once we asked,
how could we possibly prevail over catastrophe?
Now we assert
How could catastrophe possibly prevail over us?
We will not march back to what was
but move to what shall be
A country that is bruised but whole,
benevolent but bold,
fierce and free
We will not be turned around
or interrupted by intimidation
because we know our inaction and inertia
will be the inheritance of the next generation
Our blunders become their burdens
But one thing is certain:
If we merge mercy with might,
and might with right,
then love becomes our legacy
and change our children’s birthright
So let us leave behind a country
better than the one we were left with
Every breath from my bronze-pounded chest,
we will raise this wounded world into a wondrous one
We will rise from the gold-limbed hills of the west,
we will rise from the windswept northeast
where our forefathers first realized revolution
We will rise from the lake-rimmed cities of the midwestern states,
we will rise from the sunbaked south
We will rebuild, reconcile and recover
and every known nook of our nation and
every corner called our country,
our people diverse and beautiful will emerge,
battered and beautiful
When day comes we step out of the shade,
aflame and unafraid
The new dawn blooms as we free it
For there is always light,
if only we’re brave enough to see it
If only we’re brave enough to be it