Inaugural poet and show-stealer Amanda Gorman shares some behind-the-scenes moments and her own political plans with a clearly enchanted James Corden on tonight’s Late Late Show. The 22-year-old author — her upcoming children’s book Change Sings hit the top spot on Amazon on Wednesday — also tells the CBS host of her longstanding admiration for him, to his obvious delight.
Watch the segment above.
Recalling how she and her sister used to walk by the CBS studio where Corden tapes his show, Gorman says they always wanted to go inside and say hi, adding with a laugh, “but we never wanted to be those two Black girls who got arrested sneaking in to give you a hug.”
After reciting her poem “The Hill We Climb” during Wednesday’s Joe Biden-Kamala Harris ceremony, Gorman was widely celebrated for both the poem’s profound message and her graceful recitation. When she tells Corden she was happy to be “a small part” of the moment, the host disagrees: “For me, you were the pivotal moment.”
Appearing virtually, the poet also tells Corden how she was selected for the inauguration. “Dr. Biden, now first lady, saw a poem I recited at the Library of Congress,” Gorman says. “Turns out I ended up being her first choice for inaugural poet.”
She shares her reaction on getting the good news: “I’m 22 and I’ve overcome a speech impediment — like, who would want me onstage? Then they called me and offered me the opportunity, and I danced around in my socks like a crazy person.”
Gorman also reveals what she was thinking and feeling as the event was unfolding, describing the “human anxieties” that everyone feels: “I’m cold. I know Biden is right behind me, so how does my hair look? My nose is sniffling, don’t trip, don’t mess up. And you kind of just have to let all that go and be a vessel for the poem.”
The moment’s impact did set in, though. “Barack Obama is standing next to me being like, ‘You made us proud, you did a great job’ in his characteristic voice. I didn’t want to leave, and then Secret Service was like, ‘No, really, you’ve got to go.'”
Gorman and Corden wrap up the interview with an eye on the future. Says Corden, “I genuinely feel there’s a very real world where there’s a poet speaking at your Inauguration Day. I’m not joking. Is that something you’d want to do?”
“Oh heck yeah,” Gorman responds. “Planning on it.”
The Late Late Show with James Corden airs tonight at 12:35 AM ET on CBS.
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