An Interview with Lin-Manuel Miranda, Author of Hamilton
What was your inspiration for a focus on Hamilton?
Before I picked up Ron Chernow’s amazing biography, Alexander Hamilton, all I knew about him was that he was on the $10 bill and he died in a duel. But once I started reading about him, I realized that his was an immigrant story, a truly American story and his ability to write his way out of really desperate circumstances struck me as a true hip hop story. All those things combined to inspire me, and led me to tell this story this way.
Were there any mentors while you were at Hunter College High School who encouraged and honed your skills along the way?
My 8th Grade English teacher, Dr. Rembert Herbert, encouraged me to write plays. His general philosophy was to say “yes” to the ideas of his students, as long as they weren’t hurting each other. He co-signed countless creative extracurricular projects for me, and I’m forever in his debt.
Did Wesleyan University help and encourage you in writing and composing?
Definitely. We had a very strong student run theater community called Second Stage based out of the ’92 Theater and a supportive, dynamic theater department in the Center For The Arts. I wrote and performed in both arenas throughout my Wesleyan career. I learned an exceptional amount about myself and the process of creating theater, film and music from both my professors and my classmates while I was there. Go Wes!
Congratulations on the prestigious MacArthur “Genius” Award. Do you plan to teach or advise other young people in composition, acting or writing?
Thanks, I always want to connect with young artists and work with them and share my experiences and also learn from them. The methods of how that interaction plays out will change and grow as time goes on, but I always want it to be a two way street. Watching young artists develop their own voices is incredibly inspiring. Artists of all ages should be learning from each other all the time.
Do you have any plans for your next steps?
Enjoying all the time I get with my son who’s just turning a year old. The best step to focus on is the one right in front of you. If I don’t trip and fall on my face right now, I’m feeling pretty good!
If you could meet anyone from history, whom would you choose?
Historical Jesus, Joan Of Arc, Jim Henson.
What musical training do you plan for your baby son?
Well, he has been surrounded by music his whole life. If he wants to head in that direction, more power to him. #