Amanda Gorman captured the world's attention when she recited her poem, "The Hill We Climb," at President Joe Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris' inauguration ceremony on Jan. 20. While Gorman seemed confident on stage, she later admitted in a Feb. 4 interview with TIME magazine that she gets "so terrified" when she performs. Of course, the 22-year-old poet has a special way to combat her nerves. Amanda Gorman's inspirational mantra is actually so relatable, and it's truly comforting.
To stave away stage fright, some people picture audiences in their underwear. Gorman, however, prefers a different approach. She repeats a personalized mantra in her head, which is actually inspired by Mark Mancina and Lin-Manuel Miranda's song "I Am Moana (Song Of The Ancestors)" in the Disney movie Moana. She revealed the mantra in the TIME interview, conducted by former first lady Michelle Obama.
"I really wanted something that I could repeat because I get so terrified whenever I perform," she told Obama. She said the mantra is inspired by the section of the song where Moana recites her lineage and family history to inspire herself to courage and action. The song lyrics read, "I am the daughter of the village chief / We are descended from voyagers/ Who found their way across the world / They call me."
Gorman took inspiration for her own mantra: "I’m the daughter of Black writers who are descended from Freedom Fighters who broke their chains and changed the world. They call me." Gorman explained how repeating this inspiring phrase before a performance reminds her that her ancestors are all around her whenever she's on stage.
Gorman's mantra is especially inspiring for Black and brown communities in America, who have a long history of combating the hardship of diaspora by connecting with their ancestors in a spiritual way. In "The Hill We Climb," Gorman mentioned being "descended from slaves." This line, she revealed to Obama, was actually inspired by the former first lady's speech at the 2016 Democratic National Convention, during which she stated, "I wake up in a house that was built by slaves." "Whenever I’m writing, I’m looking at the history of words," Gorman said, noting how language has been continually "violated and used to dehumanize." When writing the inaugural poem, she asked herself: "How can I reclaim English so we can see it as a source of hope, purification and consciousness?"
When it comes to advice for other young girls suddenly thrust into the spotlight, Gorman admits she's still learning herself. Still, she seems to be getting the hang of things pretty well — since Jan. 20, she's been tapped to climb aboard several high-profile projects, including a nationwide performance on Feb. 7 for Super Bowl Sunday. Just how much can you expect to see Gorman in the future? She states that, despite the media's fleeting attention span, her spark isn't going to fizzle out any time soon. "I am not lightning that strikes once," Gorman said. "I am the hurricane that comes every single year, and you can expect to see me again."