The multi-talented Lin-Manuel Miranda has packed a lot into his 40 years. He does not the only star in important Broadway shows – he writes them too. He’s an actor, composer, lyricist, singer, playwright and producer, all in one. His line of work involves theatre, television, film and even radio.
Lin-Manuel Miranda is widely known for creating and starring in Broadway musicals In the Heights and Hamilton. Miranda was garnering awards for his work but gained wider recognition for writing the music, script, and lyrics for Hamilton, which became a pop culture phenomenon when it premiered in Broadway in 2015.
Lin-Manuel Miranda (born January 16, 1980) was born in New York City to parents of Puerto Rican origin. He is a child of Luis Miranda Jr., a Democratic Party consultant, and Dr. Luz Towns-Miranda, a clinical psychologist. They raised Lin-Manuel in a Hispanic neighborhood in northern Manhattan. His childhood home was filled with sounds of salsa and some show tunes.
Miranda went to see his first Broadway musical, Les Misérables, at the age of seven, and it had a lasting impression on him. He also has a liking for hip-hop and R&B, and he became a proficient rapper.
In high school, he had a lead role in Gilbert and Sullivan’s The Pirates of Penzance and became famous from their school’s drama program. At the time, he met Broadway composer Stephen Sondheim who later became a mentor to Miranda and fellow musical theater legend John Kander.
Miranda went to college to study theater at Wesleyan University. As a student, he wrote the earliest draft of what would later become his first Broadway musical In the Heights. When the show was accepted by the Wesleyan’s student theater company, Miranda added some salsa numbers and freestyle rap. The show premiered at the university in 1999. While at Wesleyan, Miranda wrote and directed several other musicals and acted in other productions.
Broadway and Theatrical Career
After graduating from Wesleyan University, Miranda worked with John Buffalo Mailer and director Thomas Kail to revise In the Heights. After its success off-Broadway, the musical opened on Broadway in March 2008. The musical was nominated for 13 Tony Awards and won four, including Best Musical and Best Original Score. It also won the Grammy Award for Best Musical Theater Album. Miranda performed the leading role of Usnavi, which earned him a nomination for the Tony Award for Best Actor in a Musical. The show was also nominated for the Pulitzer Prize for drama.
He left the cast of Broadway in February 2009 but reprised the role in the national tour from June to July 2010. Miranda rejoined the Broadway cast from December 2010 until the production closed in January 2011.
Miranda contributed two songs to a revised version of the 1978 musical Working, which opened in May 2008 at the Asolo Repertory Theater in Sarasota, Florida. In 2009, Miranda wrote Spanish language dialogue and translated lyrics to Spanish for the 2009 Broadway revival of the West Side Story.
Miranda co-wrote the lyrics and music for Bring It On: The Musical with Tom Kitt and Amanda Green. It premiered at the Alliance Theatre in Atlanta, Georgia, in 2011. The musical began as a national tour and played a limited engagement on Broadway, which officially opened in August 2012. It was nominated for Tony Awards for Best Musical and Best Choreography.
In 2012, Miranda played the role of Charley in Merrily We Roll Along, in a staged concert in New York City Center.
In 2014, he won an Emmy Award for the song “Bigger!”, which he co-wrote with Tom Kitt for the opening number at the 67th Tony Awards. He also wrote music and lyrics for 21 Chump Street and performed as the single performer and narrator of the play at the Brooklyn Academy of Music. That same year, he starred in the revival of Jonathan Larson’s Tick, Tick… Boom!.
Miranda performed the offstage cameo role of Loud Hailer in the Broadway production of Les Misérables in 2016, fulfilling his childhood dream of being in the show.
Hamilton is Lin-Manuel Miranda’s biggest work that catapulted him to presidential status when it comes to Broadway.
After reading Ron Chernow’s biography about Alexander Hamilton, Miranda began making a musical about the founding father. He was fascinated about the life of Hamilton, who rose from small origins on the Caribbean island of Nevis and became a leading US statesman, as he was the first US secretary of the treasury. He saw a classic American story, which was perceived to be a bit similar to the humble beginnings of rappers. The resulting play was energetic and infectious, and it featured a racially diverse cast. Miranda starred as the title role.
Hamilton: An American Musical premiered off-Broadway at The Public Theater in January 2015. Miranda wrote the score and book and starred as the title character. Due to its huge success, it began previews on Broadway in July 2015 the same year. It officially opened in August. In 2016, the production received an unprecedented 16 Tony nominations. Miranda earned several awards, including Best Book of a Musical, Best Original Score, and a nomination for Best Actor in a Musical. The production won 11 Tony Awards, and Hamilton was named as the best musical. Miranda also won the Pulitzer Prize for Drama for Hamilton, and the cast won the Grammy Award for Best Musical Theater Album.
In May 2016, Miranda received the Drama League Distinguished Performance Award for his role as Alexander Hamilton. Miranda gave his last performance in the production in July 2016 and reprised the role for a three-week run in Puerto Rico in January 2019.
Television and Movie Work
Miranda also did substantial work for film and television. He made a guest appearance on the TV series The Sopranos in 2007 and played Alvie in House in 2009 and 2010. Miranda was an actor and composer on the 2009 revival of The Electric Company, and played occasional roles and sang the theme song to the recurring segment Murray Has a Little Lamb in Sesame Street.
In 2012, Miranda appeared in the Walt Disney Pictures live-action film The Odd Life of Timothy Green. During this period, he also played several television roles. In 2011, he guest-starred on the TV series Modern Family in an episode. He later appeared in the sitcom How I Met Your Mother in an episode that aired in November 2013.
While working with Hamilton, Miranda helped write and perform music for Walt Disney Animation Studios’ Moana, a 2016 feature film. He collaborated with songwriters from 2014 to 2017 on the songs for Moana. Miranda received an Oscar, Golden Globe, Grammy Award, and Critics’ Choice nominations for the song “How Far I’ll Go.”
In 2015, Miranda contributed music for Star Wars: The Force Awakens. He also contributed music to another Star Wars film, Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker, which premiered in 2019. He also made a cameo appearance as a Resistance trooper.
Miranda also ventured into TV hosting. He hosted Saturday Night Live on October 8, 2016, and played himself in two episodes of Curb Your Enthusiasm in 2017. He was awarded Emmy Award nominations for both appearances.
Miranda also played Jack in Mary Poppins Returns, which was his first major role after leaving the Broadway cast of Hamilton. The movie was released in December 2018. That same year, Miranda played the voice of Gizmoduck in Disney Channel’s reboot of DuckTales.