History was made during the Season 15 finale of NBC’s “America’s Got Talent,” as the reality TV show’s first-ever spoken word artist won the $1 million prize. Brandon Leake, a 27-year-old poet from Stockton, California, sat down with Gold Derby the morning after his big victory to talk all things “AGT,” including what he plans on doing with the money and what it was like having the support of his Golden Buzzer mentor Howie Mandel. Watch our exclusive video interview above.
“Honestly in this moment right now I’m just taking the time to reflect back on it,” Brandon tells me. “You get the initial surge of emotional bliss, but it never really fully runs over you what just happened until a little bit later on. It’s all starting to slowly trickle in. So yeah, I’m juiced though.”
As for what he plans on doing with the prize money, Brandon reveals, “I know Sallie Mae would like to get a piece of that for the money she sent me for school [laughs]. I got a house payment to make to pay off my house. But aside from that, a really big thing I would love to do is to give back to my community. I’m going to try and work with some local nonprofits and community organizations to be able to offer some free poetry workshops to Southside youth in my city.”
Brandon’s victory came on the same day a Kentucky grand jury decided not to file any murder charges against the police officers who killed Breonna Taylor. “I’m also gonna be sending a donation to a justice reform group out in Louisville in regards to Breonna Taylor,” he adds. “I didn’t pay attention to anything on media or anything like that yesterday, so I didn’t know until after the show was done … My joy was pure last night. Today I get the chance to think about how I can utilize what America has now given me in terms of a platform to be able to advocate for justice in that scenario.”
As for Mandel’s never-ending love and support, Brandon proclaims, “It means a lot to have a titan in this industry give me such acclaim during this time. Thank you, Howie! And to you and your daughter, I’ve told you both I look forward to doing lunch or dinner or whatever. I’m gonna take you guys out to eat.”
Also in our interview, Brandon reveals what Simon Cowell said when he called him after his victory, he tells us what advice he’d give to spoken word artists who plan on auditioning next year, and he talks openly about what he wishes the season would have been like if the coronavirus had never appeared.