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Brandon Leake: Unveiling the Power of Words

By Ruby Churchill

Image courtesy of USA Today

In the vast, poetic universe, one name shines brighter than a supernova—Brandon Leake. Leake has a charming stage presence and a knack for weaving words into magical tapestries. He has been capturing audiences worldwide with his poetry, even gracing the stage of America’s Got Talent. On March 4, 2024, he visited Simpson University—treating everyone to a short film.

Leake's journey started in Stockton, California. Born on May 24, 1992, Leake fell head over heels for the spoken word while attending college. Poetry became his trusty steed for navigating the roller coaster of life. His childhood trials and tribulations were like fertilizer for his poetic garden.

“When I seriously started taking poetry for myself was freshman year. My best friend drowned in a levee running away from a rival gang while I was here…and I said, what better way can I honor my friend than by writing about him. So I wrote a poem, and I came up and shared it. And that was the first inkling I had to dive back into writing,” Leake said.

Leake crashed into the limelight like a poetic wrecking ball when he made history as the first spoken word artist on America's Got Talent in 2020. His audition piece was more than just a poem—it was an incredible moment addressing the social issues gripping the United States. Leake’s authenticity set him apart from the beginning. Howie Mandel couldn't resist hitting the Golden Buzzer.

After winning America’s Got Talent, Leake continued his creative career. He has used his platform to fight for social justice and mental health awareness. Leake is not just a poet; he's a force of nature wrapped in human form. From his humble beginnings to the America's Got Talent stage, he has proven that words are not just ink on paper—they are dynamite sticks waiting to explode minds.

Leake answered questions in the Student Union before introducing his short film to Simpson University students. One student asked about the transition from playing basketball to doing poetry.

“It was super difficult...what you will find is that any athlete—especially the higher you go, the more difficult the fall after it’s done. When you see professional athletes who are drugged out, who are struggling trying to figure out life after sports when they’re retired at 33, and they still have the rest of their lives ahead of them, it's because they never established any identity outside of what they did on that field. And that was me…” Leake said

Leake also empasized the importance of faith in his journey. He explained that he tried out for America’s Got Talent in 2017 but was turned down, only for God to lead him back to the stage in 2019.

“How did my faith play a role in my success? It’s solely responsible for it…Before I was on America’s Got Talent, I did 4 hours a day of rehearsal. From 9 pm to 1 in the morning, just running poems…But I did that before I committed to Jesus like for real, and didn’t get the same results. And it was my faith that met me, because I was doing poetry in 2017 when I tried out for America’s Got Talent the first time, and got told no…The distinct difference isn’t just my work ethic. The distinct difference is that God is here with me because you can show up to the right destination at the wrong time, which was me in 2017,” Leake said.

His short film Complexity detailed the relationship between a young teenager and the police officer who killed his father. It showed themes of faith, forgiveness, and struggle. Many students expressed the emotions it made them feel—sadness, loss, hope.

As he continues to paint his masterpiece on the canvas of life, Brandon Leake reminds us of the magic that happens when art and storytelling collide. Visit Leake’s website for information about his upcoming projects.

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