Amanda Gorman, the 23-year-old American poet who drew widespread acclaim for her reading at Joe Biden’s presidential inauguration, has revealed she has turned down millions in endorsements because the companies do not “speak to” her.
The poet signed with IMG Models days after her high-profile Washington appearance and told Vogue that she had since said no to “around” $17m worth of deals.
Speaking about one offer from an unnamed brand she said: “I didn’t really look at the details, because if you see something and it says a million dollars you’re going to rationalise why that makes sense.”
She added that she had to “be conscious of taking commissions that speak to me”.
Gorman is Vogue US’s May cover star. Writing about the cover on Twitter, Gorman said she was “honoured to be the first poet EVER on the cover of Vogue [and] what a joy to do so while wearing a black designer Virgil Abloh”.
In an Instagram post the Louis Vuitton designer said that the dress Gorman was wearing in one of the cover images (there are two) was “inspired by this photo my Ghanaian Mom gave me of my grandmother”.
In the interview, Gorman also spoke about her ambivalent feelings towards her newly anointed position as a fashion influencer. After she wore a red satin Prada headband at the January inauguration, the accessory sold out, while the poet’s yellow Prada coat led to searches for “yellow coats” increasing by 1,328% according to fashion search engine Lyst.
But, she told Vogue, she does not feel completely comfortable being viewed as a fashion model. “When I’m part of a campaign the entity isn’t my body. It’s my voice.” She also talked about how she is wary of being held up as an example for others. “I don’t want to be something that becomes a cage,” she said, “where to be a successful black girl you have to be ‘Amanda Gorman’ and go to Harvard. I want someone to eventually disrupt the model I have established.”
The cover images of Gorman were shot by the photographer Annie Lebowitz, who drew criticism for her recent shoot with the athlete Simone Biles in August, with readers on social media commenting they were “disappointed” at “how many professional photographers don’t know how to treat dark skin”.