March 23, 2019

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Lin-Manuel Miranda’s Passion for Puerto Rico

Lin-Manuel Miranda’s Passion for Puerto Rico
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That megaphone means that Mr. Miranda is a signal booster, able to use his visibility and his huge social media following to call attention to issues and causes. After the hurricane, the Mirandas helped raised $43 million for the Hispanic Federation’s hurricane relief fund — an effort that was inadvertently boosted when Mr. Miranda, in an uncharacteristic outburst, said on Twitter that President Trump would go to hell for criticizing the San Juan mayor — and also helped with a toy drive that delivered 40,000 Three Kings’ Day gifts to Puerto Rican children.

More recently, the family has turned to shoring up Puerto Rican artists, setting up a fund through the Flamboyan Foundation through which they hope to raise and distribute $15 million. That money is to come largely from the Puerto Rico “Hamilton” production, in part through the sale of premium tickets (about 3,000 at $5,000 apiece), corporate sponsorships, and any profits from the San Juan run. (There are also cheap tickets — 10,000 seats, about one-fourth of the total, are being sold for $10 each — and pricey tour packages.)

Mr. Miranda is using the event to promote tourism, too. He lured Jimmy Fallon’s “Tonight Show” to broadcast from Puerto Rico during the “Hamilton” run, with a promise that it will be a celebration of the island and its people.

For Mr. Miranda, figuring out how his heritage would influence his art, and his activism, started early, and took some time.

He grew up — in the words of Quiara Alegría Hudes, his co-author on “In the Heights” — “a Nuyorican hip-hop-raised whiz kid,” and has often described “code-switching” from an early age, as he shuttled between his predominantly Hispanic childhood neighborhood (Inwood) and the overwhelmingly white precincts surrounding his schools on the Upper East Side. (He attended Hunter elementary and high schools, public schools for gifted students.)

Characters in the musicals he wrote in high school “would have Latino surnames, but there wasn’t anything particularly Latino about them,” he said. But at Wesleyan, he moved into La Casa de Albizu Campos, a house for Latino students named for a Puerto Rican nationalist, and honed his voice.

“In that house, I really met other kids who were like me — who were first generation, very driven, but could speak to every side of pop culture — to Marc Anthony, Ricky Martin and J. Lo, along with the American culture we all grew up with,” he said.





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