When Emmanuel Speaks started out four years ago, he did not imagine any longevity. Emmanuel wasn’t driven by anything other than doing what he had desired to do in that moment. It was not until recently that he began thinking of the future of his career as a performance poet.
Emmanuel has appeared on Channel 4, Huffington Post, GRM Daily, Sofar Sounds, and collaborating with New Look for their Christmas and Spring/Summer advertising campaigns. At the beginning of this month, Emmanuel Speaks blew us away with his honest yet playful TED Talk.
Emmanuel begins by reciting one of his poems, retrospectively addressing his life and the struggles he faced growing up. Struggles which he overcame, eventually finding solace as ‘Speaks’.
After capturing the audience with his pensive poetry, the East London cheeky chap provides some comic relief.
‘I haven’t [always] believed I’d have the heart to stand at the Royal Festival in front of over 2000 people and tell my story, albeit me imagining all of you in your underwear.’
When Emmanuel moved from Nigeria to East London with his mother as a child, some of the things he has achieved now seemed out of reach. He recalls being focused on fitting in with the cool kids and struggling to locate good male role models.
Admirably, one thing he was sure of from very young was that he wanted to make his mark. He tells the audience:
‘For you to be great, you have to be good.’
On his own journey to greatness Speaks has discovered the importance of getting to know himself inside out. He also urges the audience to find all the pieces to their puzzle.
Speaking to Emmanuel before his talk, he reveals his routine in preparation for his TED Talk has been:
Emmanuel Speaks says his first step to get nominated to do speak was throwing out into the world his intention. Having only found out that he was doing his Ted Talk two weeks before the event took place, his speech writing process focused on being open and honest and telling his story.
The performance poet, whose album is coming out at the end of summer, is clearly a glass half full type of guy. He expresses his observation of the leaps and bounds of progression that humans have made in the recent years revelaing the curiousity this has ignited for what more is to come. When challenged about whether he feels he has witnessed any regression, he repeats what he had heard from fellow speakers Justice4Grenfell.
‘On one half the people at the top are regressing. On the other half the normal people, the people lower down in the hierarchy are on the come up and have a bit more power and are advancing’
Speaks ends his interview, on brand, with a final nugget of positivity and wisdom.
‘I’m just a firm believer in trusting the process and allowing your energies in the world to take you to wherever you are meant to be.’
Watch one of Emmanuel’s favourite TED Talk’s here.
Emmanuel Speaks will be releasing his album The Composer at the end of Summer this year. In May 2018, Emmanuel launched the first official single from his upcoming album titled ‘Who Told You?’ (feat. rapper TE dness).
Photography by Sophia Naziris.