America's Got Talent Champion Brandon Leake Has A Message For Haters With His 'Very Different' AGT Return

brandon leake america's got talent season 15 winner
(Image credit: NBC)

America's Got Talent crowned a champion unlike any who came before in Season 15 when viewers voted for spoken word poet Brandon Leake above all others. He came out on top of the kinds of acts who were familiar favorites on AGT, including some very talented singers and a daring aerialist, but it was Leake's poetry that struck a chord. That said, he received the attention of some haters during his time as an AGT contestant, and he has a message for them as he looks ahead to his big AGT return.

Brandon Leake is returning to AGT in Season 16 for a performance of the spoken word poetry that won him the top prize last season, but he revealed in a chat with CinemaBlend that not only will it send a message to any lingering haters, but also deliver something "very different." When I asked Leake to preview what's in store with his America's Got Talent return on August 11, the poet said:

I can say it's different than anything that I've ever done on America's Got Talent before. Very different from anything that the world has typically seen of me, as a spoken word poet, but will still have a lot of those very deeply personal and emotional ties that made people fall in love with what I do.

Brandon Leake's spoken word poetry really hit home with a lot of viewers thanks to his knack for telling personal stories on a grand stage in a brand new kind of way for AGT, and he revealed that he'll once again deliver something new with his return performance on August 11. His season of America's Got Talent was unique, as the show had to adapt to pandemic precautions that meant Leake's biggest performances were in a theater that was empty of spectators other than the judges.

While his powerful words in a mostly empty theater helped set him apart, it also led some critics to argue that the only reason Brandon Leake triumphed over the competition was because there was no audience. He shared his expectations for getting to perform in front of a live audience on the AGT stage this time around, and what it can prove to the "haters" who tried to bring him down:

Oh, it's gonna be way better. You know, for all of my YouTube haters who be like, 'He only won because there wasn't an audience.' I'm actually way better with people. Because there's nothing like staring a person in the eyes when you say a really beautiful line, and then seeing them either smile, or like, shudder off of the words you just said. And so yeah, I'm really looking forward to like, seeing how the audience responds and engages and, you know, roars with us. It's gonna be a beautiful time.

For fans who loved Brandon Leake during his America's Got Talent appearances as a competitor, his return as a champion in front of an audience could be even better. For viewers who had nothing but doubt and criticism for the spoken word poet... well, it sounds like they might have to change their tunes after seeing him hit the stage in front of a full house. Plus, Leake revealed one of the ways that his performance will be different and involve more people, when he shared his thoughts on the reception to his act during the uncertainty of Season 15:

If anything, to be completely honest, I think that the intimacy helped in some ways and took away in others. Like, as an artist, my greatest asset is being able to build connections between myself and the people who are listening to my art. And I didn't get the opportunity to do that with an audience, I didn't get an opportunity to be my typical lively self with all this different energy in the space. I didn't have that, and I really wish I would have. And so that's why, you know, with this upcoming performance, I'm bringing with me four Stockton poets, four youth poets, who are going to be taking this journey with me, and we're going to show the world what spoken word can do. And what the little city of Stockton has for the world to see.

Brandon Leake hails from Stockton, California, and his big victory on national television didn't mean pulling away from his roots. And in fact, four young poets from Stockton will join him for his America's Got Talent return, which wasn't something that was possible during Season 15. These young poets participating should both help Leake deliver that something "very different" and showcase them and their abilities in front of a wide audience. Leake elaborated on what's on the way with his performance including the Stockton spoken word poets:

If I were to sum it up in one thing, it's reinvest in your community. That'd be the biggest thing. I've said it before – a win isn't just for you, it's for the people around you, it's for the people who you care about, it's for the places you care about, and utilizing this return as a place to be able to not only, you know, bring myself up, but to bring others up with me is always my goal.

Fortunately, the wait to see Brandon Leake back on the America's Got Talent stage is nearly over. His first AGT performance since becoming the Season 15 champion happens during the first quarterfinals results episode of Season 16, which airs on Wednesday, August 11 at 8 p.m. ET on NBC. The episode will mark the first eliminations of the season determined by audience votes, so between the raised stakes and return of Brandon Leake, this won't be an AGT hour to miss.

Stay tuned to CinemaBlend for more of what's happening as well as what's on the way when it comes to America's Got Talent, and be sure to check out our 2021 fall TV premiere schedule for more of what's on the way as the weather starts to cool, even as the AGT competition heats up.

Laura Hurley
Senior Content Producer

Laura turned a lifelong love of television into a valid reason to write and think about TV on a daily basis. She's not a doctor, lawyer, or detective, but watches a lot of them in primetime. Resident of One Chicago, the galaxy far, far away, and Northeast Ohio. Will not time travel, but will sneak references to The X-Files into daily conversation.