Cleo Wade has a lot of hope for the future, thanks to bright, young stars like Amanda Gorman, who are paving the way for the next generation.
Wade, an activist, writer and poet, tells PEOPLE that she is "inspired" by the 22-year-old Gorman, not only as a fellow creative, but as a woman of color.
"I'm proud of and inspired by Amanda," the Where to Begin author, 31, says. "What is so incredible about her is not only her gifts and her talents and the ways that she is able to name so beautifully and incredibly what she sees around her, being in this country … but because she exists and she is the age she is and writes the type of things she writes, it's giving an entire generation of young Black and brown girls excitement about using their voice."
Gorman, who was named the country's first National Youth Poet Laureate in 2017, was handpicked by First Lady Dr. Jill Biden to read a piece during President Joe Biden's inauguration ceremony on Jan. 20.
With her powerful reading of "The Hill We Climb" during the event, Gorman, who recently graced the cover of Time, captivated viewers around the world as she became just the sixth poet to read a piece at a presidential inauguration, according to the Academy of American Poets.
The inaugural reading turned the poet into an overnight sensation, leading to her also becoming the first person to recite a poem at the Super Bowl and landing her a contract with IMG Models.
Wade — who also supported the Biden election campaign by collaborating with Meena Harris on an inspiring graphic tee design in honor of Vice President Kamala Harris — says that she only expects Gorman's bright light to continue to grow as she uses the "beauty of poetry" to help the next generation find their voice.
"And I only hope for her to get bigger and bigger and rise more and more, and for us to fall deeper and deeper into appreciation of her, because she's not only opening the doors for so many other young women of color, but she's also opening the minds of so many women of color," Wade says.
"Saying whatever it is you're thinking, however you're thinking about it is worth saying or speaking or sharing, and that's the beauty of poetry. It's never really right or wrong, it's just authentic or it's not," the What the Road Said author continues. "I think that she's going to give such freedom and liberation to the next generation to really express themselves, and that is really exciting."
And like Gorman, Wade knows exactly what it's like to have her words shared across social media and on different platforms, helping to guide people amid the Black Lives Matter movement.
"I feel if my work can offer one step to get someone closer to their healing or self-exploration — that makes me really proud," Wade told PEOPLE last year. "The coolest thing about seeing my work in the world is that I get to see the context that it's in, so it's such an education for me personally to be like, 'Wow, I didn't write that to go on a protest sign but I get to learn so much by somebody putting it on one and why they put it on that sign for that march, and that is such a gift for me as a writer."
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