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Five months after she became the breakout star of Joe Biden’s inauguration, 23-year-old poet Amanda Gorman was honored on Saturday by the group that she credits with getting her career started.
WriteGirl, a Los Angeles-based creative writing and mentoring organization that serves more than 500 teens annually, celebrated its 20th anniversary this weekend with the virtual Bold Ink Awards, where Gorman was recognized with one of the night’s big honors.
She recounted how she discovered the organization in high school and following her first workshop “felt so loved and so supported. Being able to have that space as a young Black woman with a speech impediment where I could write my work and connect with others was huge.” Gorman also credited WriteGirl with helping her achieve her dreams of attending Harvard, through assisting with the college application and financial aid process.
“The power and prowess of WriteGirl is undeniable, and thanks to you all working together in harmony it really changed my life,” she said in her video speech. “Many times the only journals I had growing up were the journals that I’d been given for free at WriteGirl workshops, and I cherished them as the treasures they are and I still keep them to this day,” closing out with a call to “keep going and never underestimate the power of a girl and her pen.”
Since the inauguration, where she recited her poem “The Hill We Climb” after becoming the country’s first National Youth Poet Laureate in 2017 and the first Los Angeles Youth Poet Laureate in 2014, Gorman has gone on to be repped by WME and signed with IMG Models.
Founded by former singer-songwriter Keren Taylor, WriteGirl aims to empower girls and non-binary teens through creative writing and one-on-one mentoring, holding weekly mentoring sessions and monthly workshops for students.
The event also saw appearances from longtime supporters Seth Rogen and Lauren Miller Rogen, Lauren Graham, Josh Groban, Wayne Brady and Keiko Agena.
Reese Witherspoon joined to present additional awards to Tembi Locke, whose memoir From Scratch the star is adapting as a limited series for Netflix, and sister Attica Locke, a novelist, writer and producer on When They See Us.
“As writers, they are beyond talented, they’re always finding the truth in every scene in every moment; as sisters, the amount of love and support that they give each other is really nothing short of true sister goals; and as humans, they inspire us all with their kindness, their passion and their constant drive to make truly impactful art,” Witherspoon said in her intro.
During her acceptance, Tembi Locke advised young writers to “be fearless, and that doesn’t mean be without fear. It just means fear less, and then make your way to the page. I say write about what you know, write about what you want to know, and I say be bold. Write every day because there’s absolutely nothing a woman and a girl with a pen can’t do.”
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