Obviously the title gives it away on who is presented with this blog dedication, but what is unknown to some of you is, why?
At the bright-eyed age of 25 (the end of 2008), I returned to New York as a young actress with the hopes of having better luck than my 5 year stint in LA. Depressed to find that "Rent" had closed, a New Yorker friend of mine told me upon my Hollywood departure that a musical has been buzzing within his Latino community called "In the Heights" and apparently is being classified as "the new Rent".
Upon my arrival, I stood in the front of the Richard Rodgers Theatre, observing the credits of the show and surprised to see that the original leading man not only mastered a stage performance that rightfully earned him the Tony, but he also wrote and developed the music... Which I must say was quite refreshing to see from an environment that usually encourages artists to be the master of the one craft they truly desire and hone it to their visions of perfection.
It took me months before I finally won the lottery to see the show that would forever change my outlook on creativity. Suddenly, I had to drag anyone I've ever loved to come see the show. Once my mom flew into town and saw the show with me, I turned to her and said "I wanna do this, this is what it's all about!" Months later I went on my very first Broadway show date ever and I couldn't think of a better memory than to have that first moment when my new boyfriend held my hand as the lights dimmed, following Lin-Manuel Miranda's voiceover announcement that the show is about to begin... Sadly, "In the Heights" closed shortly afterwards.
Fast forward to present day and to see "Hamilton" and Lin-Manuel Miranda receive the level of recognition given by the public is beyond thrilling. As much as I am thrilled, I can't say that I am surprised...And I'm still trying to win the lottery tickets to see the show.
Currently, my life in NYC entails a lot of research on how to become more business minded when approaching a vision or developing a new one. Dr. Dweck's book, Mindset: The New Psychology of Success, depicts 2 domineering types of mindset; the fixed mindset and the growth mindset. The impression I am left with, after reading the book, is that fixed mindset has a tendency to lean a great deal on a strategy or skill that has generated success from past observations. And then there is growth mindset, which leaves me with the impression that it's having the tendency to approach a vision with curiosity; you may not have all of the answers or have achieved the best strategy from the beginning, however, the willingness to grow, learn and develop those skills with time, can land you in not only a strong place, but can provide an openness to new ideas and flexibility when times change.
After watching the Tonys and reminiscing about my joy of seeing "In the Heights", it is undeniable that Lin-Manuel Miranda's phenomena has been an example of a growth mindset. Although I have yet to see "Hamilton", I cannot deny the new found energy people speak of in tribute to his work. As I hear people of all ages, ethnicities, and background talk about their heightened amazement, I am left to ask myself; when in my generation, of theatre, has this ever happened to this degree? Furthermore, if "Hamilton" has this strong of an impact on society, then maybe Lin-Manuel Miranda's work isn't just an example of a growth mindset, his work is growth mindset. Think about it! How else could you explain the collaboration of telling Alexander Hamilton's story in the form of heart racing hip-hop beats, casting phenomenal artists to play historical characters regardless of ethnicity, choosing to tell the story in a way that is relatable to both youth and elderly communities?
With that said, I am left to say that his beats, his story telling, not only changed Broadway, but is has changed me. Lin-Manuel Miranda, I cannot thank you enough for breaking barriers the way you have. For a 25 year old actress, who longed to bring other's words to life, you've shown me that I could bring my own words to life. And although it's taking years to complete my project, your work has shown me that as long as I stay the course, it will be worth it. This 25 year old girl is now a 32 year old woman and currently in the middle of post-production for a pilot that I serve as co-creator, co-producer, writer and actor. And that boyfriend that held my hand, during "In the Heights" is now my husband. And even if I don't win the lottery before your departure, I will continue to enter until I win. And I thank you, in advance, for your next vision you decide to grow.