Lin-Manuel Miranda always had a knack for musical theater. He had a magnetic presence on stage and his ability to compose and write music had gotten him several writing jobs within the industry. He was bound to be successful, but he could have never anticipated the fan fare of Hamilton, a three-hour hip-hop musical with spellbinding lyrics and fantastic compositions. Miranda brought hip-hop to the American Revolution, revolutionizing theater in the process. This is the story of Lin-Manuel Miranda.
Lin-Manuel Miranda was the son of Puerto Rican immigrants, he grew up in the neighborhood of Washington Heights in New York City. He’s always resided in New York and doesn’t live far from his childhood home today. From an early age, Miranda always had a passion for the arts. He was able to attend a very prestigious school where his dreams were facilitated properly. He remembers learning about artists like Henri Matisse and Jackson Pollack when he was kindergarten. Miranda took a lot of leading roles in his school musicals and he was amused at the thought that all the girls he was acting with had to pretend to fall in love with him. Miranda’s passion for theater only grew to the point where he wasn’t going to let it go.
Miranda solidified his name in Broadway in 2008 when he wrote In The Heights, a musical that was set in the neighborhood where he grew up. Miranda composed the music, wrote the lyrics and starred in the play. It had a successful run on Broadway and won the Tony Award for Best Musical. Around that time, Miranda had read a biography of Alexander Hamilton and felt inspired to write about him. He felt the strongest connection with Hamilton due to the fact that Hamilton had left the Caribbean where he had spent his childhood to return to the United States and pursue an education. Miranda had always valued education, something that was passed down from his father, who earned a full-ride scholarship to New York University.
Before Hamilton became a full-fledged musical, Miranda performed the play’s opening song as a piece of lyrical poetry back in 2009 for a poetry jam at the White House, wowing President Obama. It took Miranda approximately 6 years to write and compose Hamilton, first premiering Off-Broadway in 2015 and selling out quickly, Hamilton hit broadway in Summer 2015. It is common practice for lotteries to be held because of ticket demand before a play hits Broadway. 50,000 people signed up for the lottery to see Hamilton, a record that caused the site to crash. Before it even opened on Broadway, Hamilton earned an estimated $30 million in pre-sale shows. It seems as if you have to be incredibly well-connected to earn a ticket now, but an initiative has been created for a lottery by Miranda and producers of Hamilton for 20,000 students from low-income areas in New York City to have a chance to see the play for only $10. There was a plan by the U.S Treasury to remove Alexander Hamilton from the $10 bill but those plans were revoked. Some believe that it was because of the popularity of the play. The Broadway recording for Hamilton ended up going platinum, even becoming the #1 selling album in the nation at one point, something that is incredibly rare for a play.
Miranda was recently awarded the MacArthur Genius Grant, where he will be awarded $625,000 over five years to do with as he pleases. He has chosen to donate the money to two foundations. Graham Windham, a charity that was founded by Elizabeth Hamilton helping needy children, and the Mariposa Center, a group focusing on helping girls growing up in the Dominican Republic.
Miranda gave his last performance as Alexander Hamilton this past July and will now spend quite a bit time working for Disney. He will star opposite Emily Blunt in a Mary Poppins sequel and compose music for a live-action film of The Little Mermaid. Hamilton will be seen in Chicago for at least two years and will be toured nationwide in a separate production in 2017. Miranda’s creative drive has taken him to places beyond his greatest imagination. He is living proof that you can find success with the unlikeliest of ideas, but that you can do what you love as a career and change lives with a piece of art.
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