A Hypothetical Interview with Lin-Manuel Miranda

solomon_hamilton_otuYou have inevitably heard of Hamilton. Whether you’re a fan of (or remotely pay attention to) theater and caught it on the first wave of hype, or you’ve seen any of the residual hype on every single news outlet ever – including, but not limited to: the cast’s performance at the White House; creator and lead player Lin-Manual Miranda’s efforts to keep Alexander Hamilton on the $10 bill; and the posts and tweets of every celebrity that’s been to see it and raved about it afterward – you’ve heard of the revolutionary musical that’s creating its own kind of revolution.

For the readers that are nodding “Yeah, I’ve heard of that, but I have no idea what it is,” here are some quick facts.

Hamilton is a hip-hop musical about Alexander Hamilton and the other founding fathers. Lin-Manuel Miranda wrote and currently stars in the show on Broadway, where it’s been playing at the Richard Rodgers Theater since August 6, 2015. Since the workshops for the show began, it has been a sensation. The book about the show’s evolution to revolution, written by Jeremy McCarter and Lin-Manuel Miranda and including annotated lyrics by Miranda, has flown off the shelves since its release on April 12 (I preordered mine). To be very unoriginal, the production and its ripple effect are non-stop.

Because of all of this hype and coverage, there is very little I can say about the show itself that hasn’t already been said many, many times. So, instead of raving about the musical itself (which I could do for hours on end), I’m going to talk about the man behind the revolution: Lin-Manuel Miranda.

Lin-Manuel__Corey_Hayes_Photog3.jpg.250x250_q85Though my career path has parted ways with journalism, my favorite part of writing for a newspaper was doing personality profiles. I loved to just sit down with someone and talk to them for a few hours, and then write their story. I think that’s where I originally found my passion for stories.

What I’d like to do now is share with you some questions from my hypothetical interview with Lin-Manual Miranda. I still think like a journalist, and the things that Miranda has done fascinate and astound me as a writer, storyteller, and fan. If there were any one person I would want to sit down with, and be able to write that two thousand word feature profile on, it would be him.

A little part of my brain is saying “If you write it down and put it on the internet, there’s at least a fraction of a chance he may read it someday.” I can dream, right?

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Alright, here we go.

  1. The song that actually got me hooked on Hamilton was “Farmer Refuted”, because I couldn’t believe how well the words and timing lined up, and it fascinated me as a writer and a musician that it just worked. What kind of process is it to make the meaning you’re looking for and the words that fit all come together like that?

  2. In the book, it talked a lot about roles being written for or adapted to the actors that were workshopping the parts. Obviously every actor brings their own touch to a part, but with a show that seems to take so much investment from the actors, are you looking for future productions to find someone that can be another Daveed Diggs (for example), or do you expect the part of Thomas Jefferson to change to some extent?

  3. I do follow you on Twitter, and I love it. You actually liked a Tweet of mine once – it was an exciting day. About how many notifications do you get in a day and how on Earth do you keep up with them?

  4. This is pretty cliche, but I do have to ask: which is your favorite song to perform every night?

  5. In every technical sense of the phrase, Hamilton is out-performing In the Heights – the first Broadway musical that you wrote and then opened as the leading role [I assume he doesn’t need that clarification, but for all you readers]. Will it be harder to leave this show?

  6. Do you ever sleep?

  7. I’m sure you’ve been asked this a fafillion times, and I could find any number of interviews with the answer, but I have to hear it for myself: what was it about Alexander Hamilton that made you say “This is the story that people need to hear”?

  8. Does the impact of this show (speaking in terms of long-term impact) that you anticipated when you started writing it line up with the one you see now? Has your vision for Hamilton changed at all in the last seven years?

  9. Okay, here’s the last one. The question that I’m dying to ask you, and would have you answer over all the rest of these, has nothing to do with Hamilton. As a writer, and someone that’s obsessed with stories and the concept of storytelling, I have to ask you how you find stories that haven’t been told, or that somebody wants to hear. How do you know that the story you have in your head is worth telling?

Now if only there were answers to my questions. But alas, there are not, so I will continue to live my life not knowing how Lin-Manuel Miranda sorts through his Twitter feed.

Miracles do happen, though, so do me a solid and share this on your social media of choice and maybe I can give you all the inside scoop on Hamilton sometime soon. You never know, right?

[I feel like I just put a message in a bottle and I’m going to wonder for the rest of my life if it ever washed up on my hero’s beach.]

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153 Reasons to Change

CTujsdZUkAEo0a4My heart aches as I see my screens fill with pictures of the dark Eiffel Tower. I see friends post about relatives or friends that are in the city. I see #PrayforParis up and down every profile.

I am aching for some way to help. Some way to send a hug and a hand to hold to every victim and to every victim’s loved ones. I am aching for a way to stop the violence and the pain and the hate. Is there any way that I, one person, can make an entire city (nation, world) stop hurting?

The answer to that question is no. I believe that we’re all capable of the impossible, but not alone.

I don’t follow the news. I don’t pay attention to the bad things that happen around me, because I don’t like to know that there are people that are suffering that I can’t help. It makes me feel sick inside. But tonight I said, enough is enough. I’ve been reading news stories about Paris for an hour and a half. And I’ve cried for an hour and a half. I’ve cried for the deaths and losses and pains of people whom I have never met.

We cannot become numb. We cannot accept to ignore the ugly tragedies of the world because we can’t fix them with the snap of our fingers. Numbness dulls pain, but it also dulls the drive that is necessary for change. Anger and sadness and helplessness inspire action.

If you’re not angry, or you haven’t cried today because of the 153 human beings (at least) killed in Paris today by other human beings, click on this link. Read about the terror that was created at six different public places, watch interviews with those who were nearby, watch video clips of people screaming in the distance. Get angry. Let your heart ache. Cry. Yell. Feel something.

Then take that anger, or that grief, and use it. Replace it with love. For every person that was affected by the horror that took place in Paris, France today, put that much more passion into the people and the causes and the livelihoods that you care about.

The only way that we can stop hate is by replacing it with love, and passion. Everyone has a drive in them to change the world in some way. We wouldn’t do anything if that drive didn’t live somewhere within us. But the more we ignore the conditions that need to be changed, the less desire we have to change them.

And just like everyone has a drive, everyone has the means to change something. Changing the world doesn’t have to mean affecting every living creature on the planet. That’s not one person’s job. You and I can change the world simply by changing ourselves. Love inspires love, and love replaces hate.

My personal response to what happened today is that I’m finally going to start reading the news, following politics, and acting as an engaged member of our society. I’ve failed in my civic duties up until this point, but this is not a time in which any of us can afford to be oblivious. I will no longer allow myself to be complacent.

We can’t bring the 153 people back. But we can make their lives worth something. Today, you have 153 reasons to make a change in your world.

“My friends, love is better than anger. Hope is better than fear. Optimism is better than despair. So let us be loving, hopeful, and optimistic. And we’ll change the world.” -Jack Layton