Actor, playwright, lyricist, director, producer, singer, songwriter – to say that Lin-Manuel Miranda is a man of many talents is quite the understatement. He may be best known as the creator of the legendary Broadway hit Hamilton: An American Musical, but Miranda’s mark on the entertainment landscape is a lot broader than making life easier for high school history teachers.
He’s behind some of the most hummable tunes in Moana, including the film’s hot song ” We Know the Way,” as well as a charming addition to Disney’s Mary Poppins Returns. Let’s not forget that he also wrote the music for the Broadway musical Bring it On.
However, did you know that he’s also a book worm (he even bought the Drama Book Shop in NYC where he used to write), a philanthropist, and an utter romantic who’s smitten with his wife Vanessa Miranda.
Let’s take a look beyond the ten dollar founding father for some fun facts you may not know about Lin-Manuel Miranda.
You can listen to Lin-Miranda read you a book
Lin-Manuel Miranda is the narrator for two novels, the 2008 Pulitzer prize winner from Junot Diaz, The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao, and Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe by Benjamin Alire Saenz. Both stories feature young Hispanic men who are navigating the complexities of American life and searching for love and legacy in their own (nerdy) way. Perhaps, Miranda can identify with these protagonists. Either way, he brings them to life beautifully, and it’s especially fun to hear Miranda give voice to Ari in Saenz’ novel as he whines about not wanting to do a homework assignment on Alexander Hamilton.
But if you’d rather listen to Miranda as himself, he’s also a narrator for Hamilton: The Revolution which is like a backstage all-access pass to the show’s creation. You can also check out GMorning, GNight! Little Pep Talks for Me & You, a wholesome and startlingly touching collection of some of Miranda’s most popular tweets.
As Miranda explained to late-night host Stephen Colbert on The Late Show, “The book came about because of my terrible addiction to Twitter. You should not give someone who likes an audience an audience in their pocket. I started saying good morning and good night on Twitter in 2011 just as a way of keeping myself honest and keeping myself from being on it 24 hours a day. It was sort of like a way of clocking office hours for myself.”
Hamilton's Dear Theodosia is a paw-ternal ballad
Dear Theodosia, the duet sung by Aaron Burr, played by Leslie Odom Jr., and Alexander Hamilton to their newborns, is one of the tenderest moments in Hamilton. Both men, known for their ambition and prowess, stop to marvel at the depth of devotion evoked by paternity and sing about their wishes for themselves and their children as they embark on the journey of fatherhood.
The lyrics have resonated with many fans, especially the parents. As a father of two, many assumed Lin-Manuel Miranda was writing about his children, but that wasn’t exactly the case.
In 2015, a fan asked Lin-Manuel on Twitter, “How old was your son when you wrote “Dear Theodosia”? As a mom, that song has ruined many a perfectly done smokey eye.” The playwright replied, “He was nonexistent. I wrote it the week we adopted our dog.”
The dog in question is Tobi, who Lin-Manuel refers to as “the most popular member of my family – neck and neck with my wife.” Pet Lifestyle Magazine shared the story of how the actor and his wife Vanessa Miranda found Tobi as a half starved puppy on the beach while the couple was vacationing in the Dominican Republic. Tobi nibbled on Vanessa’s ankle and jumped into her lap as she relaxed on a beach chair thus claiming her place in the family. In fact, Tobi is short for “tobillo” meaning “ankle” in Spanish, so her name actually commemorates the moment they met.
Lin-Manuel surprised his bride with a full family production of To Life/L'Chaim
Years before Lin-Manuel Miranda was a household name, he had a moment of YouTube fame when a video of his surprise performance for his new bride went viral. Vanessa’s father Frank starts off with what seems like an average wedding toast until Lin steps up to the mic and the pair begin singing “To Life/L’chaim” from Fiddler on the Roof. As the song continues more and more of the family and wedding party join in the number until the dance floor is full and everyone is singing their hearts out.
Of particular note is the pure, incredulous glee with which Lin screams “MY WIFE” every time the lyrics allow. Vanessa is clearly charmed throughout, erupting in fresh laughter at each new addition to the number and clapping along.
Per Oprah Magazine, the pair have known each other since high school. Though he didn’t have the guts to share his romantic intentions then, the rising star invited her to his rap improv show, which he performed at Wesleyan University where she was getting her degree in chemical engineering at MIT. Vanessa went to the show, ut the real magic started when Lin-Manuel invited her home to “play Grand Theft Auto and watch the Jay-Z movie and listen to Marc Anthony.”
They now have two children, Sebastian and Francisco, and seem gloriously in love.
Lin-Manuel raises millions to help Puerto Rico
Lin-Manuel Miranda may have been on vacation in Austria when Hurricane Maria hit Puerto Rico in 2017, but that didn’t stop him from being deeply affected by the natural disaster that hit his parents’ homeland, nor from wanting to help.
Per the New York Times, he immediately started working on a way to put his skills to use to help the relief effort. And what Lin-Manuel does best, is get people together to sing, so that’s exactly what he did.
The song “Almost Like Praying” which takes its title from West Side Story, a childhood favorite of the writer’s, features vocals from a star-studded lineup including Jennifer Lopez, Gloria Estefan, John Leguizamo, Camila Cabello, and Fat Joe. All proceeds from sale of the song went directly towards relief efforts and hit #1 on iTunes in 17 countries within days of its release.
Efforts from the Miranda family, paired with the Hispanic Federation, founded by the star’s father Luis, has amassed over $20 million in direct aid, with less quantifiable contributions inspired by Lin-Manuel’s efforts to raise awareness and encourage generosity.
“It’s complicated, because I didn’t grow up here,” he told CBS at the time. “It’s this weird mix of I will do anything to support the island, but I also don’t for a second pretend I know what’s best for the island, because I don’t live here. My job is to amplify the concerns of Puerto Rico.”
In the Heights was a decade in the making
If you’ve already marked your calendars for the release of the In the Heights movie, you’re not alone. The play-turned-film, slated to release June 18, 2021, has been a long time coming. Lin-Manuel Miranda wrote the show while studying at Wesleyan University before presenting it at the National Music Theatre Conference at the Eugene O’Neill Theater Center. which launched its path to Broadway.
In 2008, the show won four Tony Awards, including Best Musical, and launched the careers of several members of the creative team including Tommy Kail and Alex Lacamoire, who would later work on Hamilton. You won’t see Lin-Manuel in the original role on-screen, but you will recognize Anthony Ramos, who portrayed John Lawrence and Philip Hamilton in Hamilton, as Usnavi.
Though the film was originally slated for June 24, 2021, director John Chu made the announcement via Twitter last April, stating, “After long conversations & sleepless nights of uncertainty, we have decided the best time to release #InTheHeightsMovie is next summer when people will feel the MOST comfortable celebrating in a movie theater TOGETHER. I know it’s much later than we wanted but…”
He continued, “#InTheHeightsMovie didn’t take 10 years to get made only to be left in half empty theaters w/out the crowd it deserves!! So thank you 4 ur patience & faith…and when we get through this time & the movie comes out we are throwing a HUGE EFFING PARTY LIKE YOU’VE NEVER SEEN BEFORE.”
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