Lin-Manuel Miranda may seem like an overnight success story to those of us who don’t follow Broadway closely, but it turns out he’s been racking up accomplishments for decades. Way before Hamilton broke records by earning an incredible 16 nominations for this year’s Tony Awards, Miranda was making waves beyond Broadway.
Miranda’s father made a career as a political advisor who helped New York City mayor Ed Koch, so it’s no surprise that Miranda has such a deep passion for all things politics. When he was growing up, Miranda wrote political jingles for campaigns and was chosen for former mayor Eliot Spitzer’s campaign.
Hamilton isn’t Miranda’s first wild success on Broadway. He wrote his first successful musical, In the Heights, during his sophomore year of college. The show was based on Miranda's childhood neighborhood, Washington Heights, and won the Tony Award for Best Musical in 2008. Miranda won the Tony for Best Original Score that year as well.
Writing is Miranda’s biggest passion, and it’s led him to write guest columns for The New York Times. In his most successful story, he pleaded for Broadway to do more to get people excited about shows and into theatres. If you’re starting to think he’s passionate about everything he does, you’re right.
Sure, when you put it up against his other accomplishments, it may sound less impressive, but let’s not pretend Bring It On isn’t one of the best movies and musicals ever.
Miranda has been a staple in the White House's Evening of Poetry, Music and the Spoken Word event because of his amazing talents. In 2009, he wrote and performed the song "Hamilton Mixtape," which introduces Alexander Hamilton's story and later became the song "Alexander Hamilton." The crowd was so moved and inspired by his performance that Miranda was inspired to expand it into Hamilton as we know it.
Between "Alexander Hamilton" and the full Hamilton show, Miranda would perform the Hamilton Mixtape, which was a condensed set. The New York Times called Miranda and his performance a “game-changer” for its intelligence, passion and political statement. Even without the full Broadway show, Miranda was already being called a genius.
The MacArthur Foundation awarded Miranda a MacArthur Fellowship, sometimes called a "genius" grant, for showing "extraordinary originality and dedication in [his] creative pursuits and a marked capacity for self-direction." There’s really nothing else you can do after you’re officially called a genius.
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