I'm sure there have been lots of firsts on the America's Got Talent stage over the course of the show's 15 years on the air. This season, however, saw one of the best firsts for the series when spoken word poet Brandon Leake became not only the first performer of his kind to compete on the show, but also the first spoken word artist to come out on top and win the whole thing. But, the seemingly unshakable poet is now revealing why his performance in the finale actually saw him become scared for the first time during the season.
Brandon Leake's winning performance on AGT may have been a first for the long-running talent show, but he was hardly a dark horse competitor. Leake managed to stun both the audience and judges week after week, even nabbing Season 15's first golden buzzer, courtesy of a truly wowed Howie Mandel near the start of the season. Now that he's had a bit of time to absorb what his win means, though, Leake is talking about how scared he was ahead of his performance in the finale, and why nerves hit him so hard for the first time just then, when he'd been going strong without any jitters previously, and told Parade:
To be honest with you, I was scared at no other point besides this last one. I was a psychology major. I understand how humanity works. Sharing stories of pain with other people is vulnerable, but at the same time, my pain is an easy experience to share with others because we’ve all experienced that. But to share joy and love with other people is so much more vulnerable, because we try to keep those things protected and safe, so that nobody tries to pick at that. So, knowing that this last poem was nothing but love and joy, I was, ‘Man, could I handle a critique from the world about my love of my daughter?’ I said, ‘No matter. This is her gift. It doesn’t matter what anybody else says. I’m going to make sure she gets this gift.’
Wow. It never would have occurred to me, or most people who aren't used to performing, I suppose, that the easiest part about what Brandon Leake did so well and frequently on the show was bear his soul by bringing all of his pain to the forefront for us to relate to. It's basically the complete opposite of what many of us would imagine to be the case. But, as he noted during his interview (quite eloquently, of course) he feels that sharing pain is easy because we've all had it.
On top of that, while everyone's specific pain is different, it's already bad, so nothing anyone can say about your experience will make it worse. Brandon Leake thinks that the opposite is true when sharing joy, because if someone has something negative to say about how you express it, that can take you out of the moment and bring you down.
Brandon Leake spent most of his time on America's Got Talent sharing very personal stories of painful struggles with viewers through his performances. He talked about Black Lives Matter, the death of his little sister and being estranged from his father, for instance, but it was the finale spoken word piece about his love for his 6-month-old daughter Aaliyah which really brought the butterflies. In the end, though, he decided that his daughter deserved to have her moment in the sun in this way, so Leake conquered his nerves and ended up as the newest winner of America's Got Talent.
America's Got Talent will likely be back for Season 16 next year, but we don't have an official renewal or start date just yet, so stay tuned to CinemaBlend for the latest. In the meantime, see what you can watch right now by checking out our guide to fall TV!