Our Lin-Manuel Miranda biography is now live.
Who is Lin-Manuel Miranda? Only the certified genius who created, wrote and stars in the Broadway mega-show Hamilton. And also the Tony-winning writer and star of In The Heights, which ran for 1,184 performances on Broadway from 2008-11.
And Lin-Manuel Miranda is also the guy expected to win a bunch of Tony Awards tonight. Hamilton won a record 16 nominations overall, and Miranda is up for four himself: for best actor in a musical, best book, best score and best musical.
[ Update: Hamilton won 11 Tonys, with Lin-Manuel Miranda winning three of those for best book, best score and best musical. His co-star Leslie Odom, Jr., who plays Hamilton’s rival Aaron Burr, won for leading actor in a musical. ]
All of this by age 36, by the way. Lin-Manuel Miranda was born in New York City in 1980, and began writing In The Heights while he was still a student at Wesleyan University.
That show was based on the colors and flavors of his childhood neighborhood, Washington Heights, the immigrant-heavy district at the northern tip of Manhattan. Miranda (center in the photo above) played Usnavi, the bodega owner who is the show’s central character.
The show won Miranda his first Tony Awards (for best musical and best original score). But by the time it hit Broadway, he was already on the trail of Hamilton. The story is well-known now: on a vacation to Mexico, Miranda began reading Ron Chernow’s mammoth biography of Alexander Hamilton, the founding father and first Secretary of the Treasury who died young in a duel with Aaron Burr. In a true stroke of genius, Miranda recognized the kinship between the scrappy, ambitious Founding Father and the scrappy, ambitious rappers, hip-hop stars and immigrants of today. He began writing snippets of songs, which at first he called “the Hamilton mixtape.”
To remember how audacious this idea was, go back to Miranda’s performance at the White House Poetry Jam in 2009, not long after Barack Obama became president. Jump forward to the 2:10 mark and listen to the audience laugh out loud as Miranda drops the line “Alexander Hamilton — his name is Alexander Hamilton.”
OK, it was a funny idea. Also so very smart.
This March, Lin-Manuel Miranda was back at the White House for an encore, this time with the cast of his smash Broadway show. Jump forward to the 8:45 mark for their stirring rendition of the show’s big tune, “My Shot.” Wow.
On that same trip, Miranda did some freestyle rapping with POTUS in Rose Garden. Not something that was typically seen in the Hoover or Eisenhower administrations.
It’s hard to overstate Miranda’s achievements. Besides the 16 Tony nominations for Hamilton, Miranda was given a MacArthur Foundation “genius grant” last year, and this year he won the prestigious Pulitzer Prize for Drama. He’s also a genius at Twitter, keeping up a steady stream of chatter, fan interactions and fun on his feed. He’s on a roll. Congratulations to him!
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