Tuesday, November 24, 2015

Lin Manuel Miranda > www.linmanuel.com

Lin-Manuel Miranda, Actor,Composer, Playwrite, Lyrist and Rapper. Interview by Laura Rosado of PlanetM

1) What is it that you need to be a leader?
I don’t think of myself as a leader.  I think of myself as a collaborator.  That’s the fun of creating theater. That by definition, you cannot do it alone.  I work with directors and choreographers, and other writers, and I play a very specific role - and I am very aware of the role I play.  I think that’s the most important gift that a leader can bring to any project - the ability to get everyone talking and on the same page, and the best idea in the room wins.  A leader is not afraid of where the idea comes from, but recognizes what the right idea is, and implements it. 

2) What are some of the things that have inspired you in your life?
Everything in life has truly inspired me.  And as an artist, that’s my job.  An artist’s job is to be inspired, to fall in love with that story so good, that you feel you are the only one who can tell it… that the melody or song in your head can only come to you, not to anyone else.
Our job as artists is to be open.  Sometimes that’s difficult, because sometimes you want to shut down, and you don’t want to let anything in.  But artists must let everything in.  And then, the stuff that sticks, that’s the stuff that we are meant to make. 

3) Does being a Hispanic have an influence in the work you do? 
Everything about me has an influence on the work I do!  I think that growing up Latino, in a Latino neighborhood, speaking Spanish and English… all of it informs my work.  I think that even when the subject matter of what I’m writing about isn’t “quote unquote” Latino, I think that there is a sensibility there, which is informed by my Latino upbringing, that is a part of who I am.

4) What is the biggest challenge that you face?
The biggest challenge that I face, is the challenge that all artists face: which is recognizing the right idea to run with.  Musicals take a long time, so you can start working on one, and three years down the road realize: “Oh, this isn’t it.”  As artists, we fall in love with our work for our living, and sometimes projects don’t work out.  But any artist’s challenge is to nurture an idea from it being just an idea, followed by the hard work of building the infrastructure, of building the thing – it’s own thing.

5) If you could change anything about what you do, what would it be?
I would make theater ticket prices cheaper!  That’s easier said than done, obviously, and that’s actually not my job as an artist.  My job is to write the shows, not produce them.  And things are expensive to produce.  But luckily, there are ways to make theater tickets afforfable.  For example, we recently announced a new initiative by the Rockefeller Foundation, that will provide tickets for “Hamilton” to 20,000 New York City students.  It would be great to see initiatives like this expand  and grow.

6 )What was a childhood ambition of yours?
I wanted to be either a Hollywood movie director, or a Hollywood stuntman.  But then I realized that I didn’t like getting hurt or going fast, so the stuntman idea went out the window.  Later, I discovered that I was always making up songs, and then at some point, I turned in that direction; and ran with it. 

7) Three leaders that you admire:
Martin Luther King:  I admire his mix of compassion, and urgency and social justice.  He was able to harness a lot of conflicting and really tough challenges, into an amazing movement.

Broadway Director Hal Prince:  He is the inventor of the “getting everybody in the room and on the same page” approach to stage directing and leadership.  His notion of “the best idea in the room wins” can be applied in all aspects of life.

Rubén Blades:  He has been a songwriter, an actor, a politician.  He just kind of does whatever he thinks he should be doing next.  And that is the mark of a true artist.  He doesn’t plan his career by what “looks good” or what’s “hot” at the moment.  It is about what’s inside him that he feels he must do.  And I hope I find that same internal compass. 

8) Business meetings preference – 
I love a good lunch meeting!  I never think of dinner meetings because I’m always doing a show!

9) Sacrifices that you have made to become successful at what you do?
The sacrifice is always time.  It takes a long time to write shows.  It takes a long time to make art.  And the only way to minimize that sacrifice, is to surround yourself with people who love you, who understand what your work is, and “get” what you are doing.  Even if that means a little bit less time for them.  I am married to a wonderful woman who is passionate about her own field practice.  If I am off writing all-night, she is off working too, and we come back, and find each other at the end of the day.

10) Favorite Quote:
“This Too Shall Pass” – It is my mother’s favorite quote.  It is true in the good times and the bad times.  It is just true.

11) Is it difficult to be unconventional? 
I don’t set out to be unconventional.  I think that leadership and success come from finding your “internal compass” – finding the things that you want to put into the world, and feel uniquely suited to do or to create.  That is very hard, but finding that story that you feel uniquely suited to tell or write is essential.

12) Description about the Company/Artist

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