By Lily Angel
Lin Manuel Miranda is a man of many talents. He is a playwright, actor, singer, rapper, dancer, and a musician. Miranda is most famous for his original play “Hamilton,” but his true origins are much more fascinating.
As a child in New York City, Miranda grew up in a vibrant and diverse community where he showed an early interest in the arts. He was very involved in his high school drama department as well as being committed to his family and community. Every year, Miranda spent at least a month in Puerto Rico, his family’s country of origin. His experiences in Puerto Rico and with his family heavily influenced his first musical, the semi-biographical “In the Heights.”
Remarkably, Miranda was only 19 when he wrote “In the Heights” while at Wesleyan University. He would spend years fine-tuning the musical, until one day all of his hard work paid off. “In the Heights” became an off-broadway production that would go on to win both Tony Awards and Grammy Awards. His musical also scored a well-received Netflix movie. “In the Heights” catapulted Miranda to fame and fortune.
“I try to let my decisions be guided not by what I think will succeed or fail, but what I’m going to learn from that process,” Miranda said in an interview with NPR.
This ambitious spirit served Miranda well.
After “In the Heights,” he starred on the PBS show “The Electric Company,” teaching kids word pronunciations, but that was just the beginning. He would continue to dominate the limelight especially in his relationship with Disney. He helped write “Moana” and co-starred in the Mary Poppins remake “Mary Poppins Returns.” His latest Disney creation “Encanto” will be released later this year.
Despite all of the fame, Miranda hasn’t forgotten where he comes from. His magnum opus, “In the Heights” is a love letter to his Hispanic roots and his love of New York City. More than anything, Miranda has worked to tell stories about Latinx people which depict the rich diversity of their communities.
“It’s about writing what’s missing. Can we tell stories that’s not just about Latinos from the 50s with knives in their hands?” Miranda said in an interview with Trevor Noah.
With his many contributions, Miranda will no doubt inspire a new generation of Latinx artists to tell new and untold stories.