The man behind the man
Long before Lin-Manuel Miranda started making waveshis father Luis — a political advisor and activist — was a powerhouse for change. A new HBO documentary resembles his extraordinary legacy
The majority of us understand who Lin-Manuel Miranda is he’s the man who created the hit Broadway musical Hamilton and moved to international superstardom playing with the lead character. He has won a ton of awards, including a Pulitzer Prize, three Tony Awards, three Grammys and an Emmy, while his ?rst musical In the Heights will soon be released as a ?lm.
As if that is not impressive enough, the 40-year-old triple threat also penned all the songs in the hit Disney ?lm Moana and celebrities in the FOX SHOWCASE fantasy show His Dark Materials.
But long before Miranda began gaining worldwide recognition, his father, Luis
Since relocating to the USA from 1971 in Puerto Rico, he has advocated for the rights of the Hispanic community. In recent years, he has also campaigned for the people of the homeland — a US territory in the Caribbean that was ruined by category-?ve Hurricane Maria at September 2017.
Following the horri?c storm — that resulted in losses and damage to the tune of more than US$91.61 billion — he and his son used their public pro?les to raise millions in relief to the stricken archipelago.
Lin-Manuel wrote and published the tune Almost Like Praying, donating the profits, while his dad went to organisation mode. Together, they worked to get much-needed skills to Puerto Rico and declared a restaging of Hamilton that toured the unincorporated territory in 2019, raising crucial funds for the arts and helping to reinvigorate the market.
A new documentary, Siempre, Luis, that translates as”always, Luis” — named for how he signs off his correspondence, as well as his indefatigable spirit — charts how they managed to do all this, along how analyzing Miranda Sr’s extraordinary life and relentless drive to make positive change locally. Far from slowing down him, it simply galvanised his decision to get more things done.
“That is fairly Luis Miranda — his relentlessness to keep moving,” Lin-Manuel remarks. “That’s exactly what I put in on. When I was playing [Alexander] Hamilton, I was just playing my father…”
We also watch his wife, Dr Luz Towns- Miranda — a clinical psychologist — stressing about his inability to take the opportunity to recuperate properly.
“I tell him,’I don’t want to be a widow. There isn’t another you to replace you,”’ she says in the documentary.
Adds Lin-Manuel:”I didn’t hear about my father’s heart attack until it was almost over. I was in London with my family. My father called me in the hospital bed and said,’I’d… I am having a little bit of a heart attack,’ and actually downplayed it. “I did not realise how serious it was until afterwards — that’s pretty Luis Miranda, frankly.”
Luis helped raise in excess of US$20 million for US-based non-government organisation the Hispanic Federation — where he was the founding president with the funds going towards food and aid packages that were distributed throughout the region, the grateful recipients of which are depicted in the documentary.
The ?lm then changes to their attempts to bring Hamilton to the land.
“When we realised Hamilton was likely to become a success, I knew I wanted to bring [it] to Puerto Rico,” Lin-Manuel reveals from the ?lm. “So with Hurricane Maria, the only thing which changed was that the timetable of our statement “
Siempre, Luis is a love letter of sorts — from Luis into his beloved homeland and from Lin-Manuel to his father, who’s always been his biggest fan.
“How my father and that I work is collaborative,” Lin-Manuel describes. “We sort of beginning with whatever creative work I am doing and then we ?nd approaches to connect it to the entire world at large.
“He’s become a gatekeeper for me, in a really real manner, which isn’t ever how I anticipated our relationship.”