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Amanda Gorman Turned Down $17 Million In Brand Deals After Taking Advice from Oprah Winfrey

Amanda Gorman’s life has changed immensely since delivering a powerful performance at the January inauguration of President Joe Biden and in an interview with Vogue, the 23-year-old revealed that she turned down $17 million in endorsements because they didn’t create the kind of content she aligned with.

“I didn’t really look at the details because if you see something and it says a million dollars, you’re going to rationalize why that makes sense.” Though she refused to reveal the brand behind the massive proposal, Gorman explained, “I have to be conscious of taking commissions that speak to me.”

WASHINGTON, DC – JANUARY 20: Youth Poet Laureate Amanda Gorman speaks during the inauguration of U.S. President Joe Biden on the West Front of the U.S. Capitol on January 20, 2021 in Washington, DC. During today’s inauguration ceremony Joe Biden becomes the 46th president of the United States. (Photo by Alex Wong/Getty Images)

Still, she appears to be managing her newfound fame very well, thanks to some help she received from television veteran Oprah Winfrey

During a March 26 interview on “The Oprah Conversation” talk show on Apple TV, when asked by Winfrey — who has seemingly positioned herself as a silent mentor in Gorman’s career — how she’s managed the outthrust of highly tempting offers, the young creative reminded her of a counsel she offered that has since become a mantra for Gorman. 

“Well, you gave me a great piece of advice, which now my team lives by, where you said basically, be wary of other people’s agendas, because they have them. So, whenever I show up to a meeting with my team, and we’re deciding what needs to get done, 98 percent of the time, we’re saying no,” Gorman told Winfrey. “And it’s thinking really hard: What would Oprah say? Be wary of other people’s agendas. It’s like we have it in our messages constantly, and we’re living by it.”

The Los Angeles native said saying no hasn’t always been easy, especially when she’s had to force herself to decline offers that “would have been my college education ten times over.” She even told Winfrey that she stopped looking at some emails so she wouldn’t wrestle with her decisions to step away from deals.

“For me, it’s believing this isn’t about a moment. It’s about a legacy. It’s so much grander than any one murmur or any one project, and actually, no is going to be one of my greatest instruments in that journey,” she continued.  

Winfrey, who admitted she learned later in her career about the power of the word no, applauded the rising star on her ability to make the sometimes tough but necessary decisions at such a young age. Gorman, in turn, gave gratitude to the former television talk show host for her guidance, stating, “I’m lucky because I have people like you who’ve lived it who are telling me, so I don’t live the same years not knowing. I get to show up with the knowledge that people like you pass down to me.”

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