The Untold Truth Of Lin-Manuel Miranda

Lin-Manuel Miranda literally created the "room where it happens." Even though the Broadway star was nominated for five Tony Awards — "Hamilton" won two, while "In the Heights" took home one — Miranda's career was just getting started. In film, he played the role of Jack in the 2018 live-action "Mary Poppins Returns" alongside Emily Blunt. Miranda also became heavily involved in TV, including roles in "Fosse/Verdon" and "Brooklyn Nine-Nine," and he produced a 2021 PBS documentary about legendary star Rita Moreno. For an excellent performance in the HBO series "Curb Your Enthusiasm," Miranda earned an Emmy nomination for outstanding guest actor in a comedy series.

Though tickets to "Hamilton" seemed impossible to get at the peak of its popularity, Miranda's works ultimately found their way to more viewers. In addition to "Hamilton" being made available to stream on Disney+ in 2020, his first Broadway show "In the Heights" became a movie in 2021. Plus, Miranda turned the musical "Tick, Tick... Boom!" into his film directorial debut, starring Andrew Garfield as the lead. More than just movies and musicals, Miranda found several other ways to keep fans entertained. But not everyone was charmed by the actor's activities, and Miranda found himself in the midst of a few controversies. This didn't hold the "Hamilton" creator back, as he continued to find ways to showcase his brilliant writing to delight all generations.

Don't throw away your shot to learn the untold truth of Lin-Manuel Miranda.

Lin-Manuel Miranda reveals his heritage

Lin-Manuel Miranda has a rich family history, so for fun, a popular genealogist named Megan Smolenyak dove into the actor's family tree. After a month of research on Miranda's roots, "she was particularly struck by the story of his ancestors David Towns and his partner Sophie, a former slave from Virginia, and the mixed race children they had together," The Guardian reported. On this side of his family, Miranda had many ancestors who were Mexican. 

The other side of Miranda's family was of Puerto Rican heritage. In fact, Miranda's parents moved from Puerto Rico to New York before Miranda was born, per Rolling Stone. Smolenyak observed to The Guardian that her research found Miranda's family to be "multiracial, multicultural and multinational. In short, they have a lot in common with his Puerto Rican forebears." In response to her report on his family, Miranda thanked the genealogist in a tweet that said, "My mom's side of the family has a history as complicated as our country itself." Miranda also clarified on Twitter that he has a mixed heritage beyond his strong roots from Puerto Rico. "I'm Puerto Rican AND Mexican," he posted.

Unsurprisingly, with his gift for wordplay, Miranda's name was inspired by a famous poet. He shared a photo on Twitter revealing that his name came from Jose Manuel Torres Santiago's poem "Nana roja para mi hijo Lin Manuel." The poet even wrote a note to the young Miranda in 1993.

The meaning behind Lin-Manuel Miranda's hair

To add to the authenticity of "Hamilton," Lin-Manuel Miranda grew his hair to shoulder length for his role as the title character, per The New Yorker. As he neared the end of his time with "Hamilton," Miranda looked forward to having a different hairdo. "I have been having dreams of going to the barbershop," he reportedly said to gallery owner Benjamin Macklowe, per The New York Times. In July 2016, after his final performance in "Hamilton," Miranda shed his flowing locks along with a few tears, according to his father, who tweeted a photo of the stage actor getting a haircut. Once the cut was complete, Miranda shared a photo of his chopped hair with the caption "Teach 'em how to say goodbye" — a line from "Hamilton."

"My wife misses my ponytail. She was like, 'Oh, I have a new husband for a couple of years,'" Miranda told People about his signature look on stage. "Less people recognize me with the short hair, hence I love the short hair. I like the 30 minutes a day I save on looking for hair ties." But fans closely watched Miranda's public appearances to see if his hair provided any clues for a possible comeback. For example, his hair was pulled back in a man bun during a TV interview in 2021. So, "the gossip on Broadway is that he is growing his hair so he can star as Hamilton when Broadway returns," Page Six reported.

Lin-Manuel Miranda has a mighty pen

Part of Lin-Manuel Miranda's entertainment universe has been his collection of tweets with words of encouragement. For example, one tweet read, "Good morning. Your mind is your home and no one else's. Furnish it as you wish. Set the temp so you're comfortable." Miranda's happy thoughts usually started off with the words "Good morning" or "Good night." During an interview on "The Late Show with Stephen Colbert," Miranda revealed the origin of his idea. "I started saying good morning and good night on Twitter in like 2011, just as a way of keeping myself honest and keeping myself from being on it 24 hours a day. I would just be like 'good night, I'm going to bed.' It was sort of like a way of clocking office hours for myself," Miranda said.

Going one step further, Miranda decided to compile his daily tweets in a complete book called "Gmorning, Gnight!: Little Pep Talks for Me & You." This collection of quotes is likely available at his book store in NYC. In partnership with the director of "Hamilton" and a couple other colleagues, Miranda bought a bookstore to give the neighborhood a creative space, especially with the arts in mind. ​​"My hope is that we can continue to be a hub for the theater community," Miranda told The New York Times. "I don't expect we'll make a great fortune, but I hope with the coffee we'll break even," he admitted.

How much is Lin-Manuel Miranda worth?

Ten months into "Hamilton" on Broadway, the show was a sensation. After quickly recuperating the cost of production, the musical started to earn an "estimated $600,000 a week in profit," The New York Times reported. Not only did the star and creator Lin-Manuel Miranda earn money from the show in New York; "Hamilton" went on to play in other major cities like San Francisco and Chicago. 

In summer 2016, a ticket to "Hamilton" cost an average of $172. For scalpers and resellers, the tickets sold for an average of nearly $900. Some sites even listed tickets for over $5,000 per seat. But Miranda was just getting started with "Hamilton," as he transitioned into working on other projects, including his directorial debut with "Tick, Tick... Boom!" All of these forms of entertainment, including his book and more, led to an impressive bank account for the actor. As of 2021, Miranda was worth an estimated $80 million.

Some of Miranda's funds went toward living close by to his Broadway smash hit. He and his father co-purchased an Inwood home "in 2008, the same year Lin-Manuel's 'In the Heights,' premiered on Broadway and won a Tony," StreetEasy reported. The house went on sale in 2018 for nearly $1 million. Almost ten years after buying his Inwood residence, Miranda purchased two units in Washington Heights, the setting of his first Broadway show. He reportedly spent about $2.5 million on the two properties.

The charitable side of Lin-Manuel Miranda

One setback from the popularity of "Hamilton" was that as tickets became increasingly rare and expensive, it became more difficult for some patrons to see the show. But Lin-Manuel Miranda knew his hit musical could be a way for youngsters to become more interested in history through song, raps, and dancing. "If we can excite curiosity in students, there's no telling what can happen next," Miranda told The New York Times. "Not to say we're going to make 1,300 history majors or 1,300 musical theater writers every time we do the show, but hopefully they will take away how much Hamilton did with his life in the time that he had," Miranda added. So, he worked to make the show more accessible to students, and producers sponsored student-only matinee shows.

Beyond inspiring others through songs and tales of the founding fathers, Miranda also used his influence for other charitable projects. "For me, philanthropy and artistic inspiration kind of come from the same place," Miranda told The Associated Press. One specific example was in coordination with his family, who all "awarded a total of $225,000 in grants to immigrant rights groups and policy reform advocates throughout the country."

Another one of Miranda's good deeds was helping during the COVID-19 pandemic. The actor and his father helped create a vaccination site in Times Square to facilitate a quicker comeback for Broadway shows after a long period of closure due to restrictions, per Parade.

The details of Lin-Manuel Miranda's wife

When he was a senior in college, Lin-Manuel Miranda was at times more interested in theater than dating. He remembered once seeing the Off-Broadway production "Tick, Tick.. Boom!" by Jonathan Larson with his girlfriend at the time. Miranda was so inspired that "apparently I ditched her after the show," he told The New Yorker. "I think I had the presence of mind to put her in a cab. But I just was, like, I have to go think about my life," Miranda admitted. Later, he linked up with his future wife Vanessa Nadal. Both went to the same high school but didn't begin dating until after Miranda graduated from college; Nadal was a scientist at the time. Showing her smarts, Nadal went on to study chemical engineering at the prestigious Massachusetts Institute of Technology and became a cosmetics lawyer, per The Guardian.

Always one to put on a show, Miranda surprised his wife with a performance at their wedding. In a video from the reception, Miranda performs the song "To Life" from "Fiddler on the Roof" alongside his father-in-law, father, and bridal party members. But even after Miranda became a huge Broadway star, he admitted that Nadal doesn't love theater as much as him. She doesn't "really care about musicals. She likes good ones, but she doesn't like any old musical," Miranda revealed to The Guardian. As a result, he increased the pace of "Hamilton" to better keep her attention.

How Lin-Manuel Miranda developed his flow

Rapper Common recalled his experience with Lin-Manuel Miranda on the set of "The Odd Life of Timothy Green" when speaking with The New Yorker: "I will always remember us freestyling during lunchtime on the set and thinking, 'Wow, this guy is talented.'" Miranda used his love of rap and hip-hop to create one of the most unique Broadway musicals of all time with "Hamilton," but his passion for rap started long before he became a Broadway star. 

He was part of Freestyle Love Supreme. The improvisational hip-hop group featured Miranda, Thomas Kail, Christopher Jackson, and Anthony Veneziale. The four guys used the group after college "to experiment with theatre and craft their own unique musical sound" (via Sundance). From the beginning, Freestyle Love Supreme filmed their story, which eventually became a documentary called "We Are Freestyle Love Supreme." The film featured 15 years of footage showcasing the rise of Miranda and his group mates. For example, Jackson also starred in Miranda's musicals "In the Heights" and "Hamilton." The end of the documentary showed clips from the "much-anticipated reunion performances in New York City in 2019." In the intervening years, Miranda obviously became famous, but he continued to perform at Joe's Pub theater and other New York City venues, The New Yorker reported.

The film's director, Andrew Fried, told NPR: "They were creating a language onstage, and it's a language now that I think has become very familiar to us because 'In the Heights' exists and because 'Hamilton' is as ubiquitous as it is."

Lin-Manuel Miranda's talent is out of this world

One of the more memorable musical moments during the original "Star Wars" trilogy came during a scene at a cantina with odd-looking aliens playing a jazzy tune. So, when director J.J. Abrams directed the rebooted franchise, he needed a clever song to compete. But the original composer, John Williams, didn't want to make new versions of the cantina jazz tunes, which opened a door for Lin-Manuel Miranda. 

Miranda approached Abrams during an intermission of "Hamilton" and said that he would be available to write a song. "I jokingly said, 'Well, if you need any cantina music for Episode Seven, I'm your guy,'" Miranda told SFGate. The director accepted the perfectly timed proposition, and both guys worked on the song. Miranda and Abrams reunited in New York on May 4, 2016, or as "Star Wars" fans call the day, "May The Fourth Be With You." Outside of the theater showing "Hamilton," Miranda and Abrams shared the origin story and played their song for fans, as recorded in a video.

Miranda worked on the galactic sounds while writing another smash hit for the movie "Moana." The song "How Far I'll Go" earned Miranda his third Grammy award. Sticking with the family-friendly music, Miranda also signed on as a composer for the live action remake of "The Little Mermaid," Variety reported. Alongside Alan Menken, the composer for the original animated film and other Disney classics, Miranda worked on new songs for the remake.

Inside Lin-Manuel Miranda's childhood

Growing up, Lin-Manuel Miranda enjoyed watching TV sitcoms including "Family Ties" and more serious series such as "NYPD Blue" with his parents. For music, Miranda listened to old-school hip-hop including the Beastie Boys and Run-DMC, thanks to his older sister. As for movies, Miranda devoured action films starring Arnold Schwarzenegger and Steven Seagal, Parade reported. 

One reason he loved these action films was for the stunts. "I actually wanted to be a stuntman when I was a kid, before I discovered my aversion to anything remotely dangerous," Miranda admitted to Playbill. But of course, he grew up going to Broadway shows. The first musical he ever saw was "Les Misérables" in 1987. "I was also jealous that there was a little kid onstage [the character of Gavroche] and thinking, 'Wait, how do you get that job in theater?!'" he told Parade. The show helped him tap into emotion. Miranda remembered crying from the stage drama.

Outside of entertainment, Miranda would visit his parents' native Puerto Rico. The young boy still had family on the island and reportedly "spent a month every year there visiting his grandparents" (per PBS). On those visits, Miranda picked up Spanish thanks to "sink or swim" immersion in the language, he told The New York Times. During the school year in the U.S., Miranda attended "the elite public Hunter College elementary and high schools on the Upper East Side."

How a famous actor helped Lin-Manuel Miranda

Following the success of his musical "In the Heights," Lin-Manuel Miranda expanded his reach in entertainment by joining the medical drama "House." An executive producer from the TV show reached out to Manuel as a fan of "In the Heights" and wrote a character specifically for the actor. In the series, Miranda played the title character's roommate at a psychiatric ward. The show's star, Hugh Laurie, said Miranda's role was the "Tigger to his Eeyore," as Miranda relayed to Playbill. While filming the show, Miranda was also working on what would become "Hamilton" the musical. After reading a biography of the founding father on vacation, Miranda wanted to turn the story into a hip-hop album.

While having a drink with Laurie, as Miranda recalled in "Hamilton: The Revolution," "I told him I wanted to write a breakup letter from King George to the colonies. Without blinking, he improv'd at me, 'Awwww, you'll be back,' wagging his finger. I laughed and filed it away. Thanks, Hugh Laurie" (via Mental Floss). This discussion ultimately turned into the song "You'll Be Back" in "Hamilton."

For the movie adaptation of "In the Heights," viewers can briefly hear "You'll Be Back" playing as phone "on-hold" music in one scene. "That was indeed a Lin idea, and we wanted to make it a Muzak version," the film's director Jon M. Chu told TheWrap. "It's all part of the 'Lin-ematic Universe," Chu added.

How Lin-Manuel Miranda started making musicals

According to Lin-Manuel Miranda, he wrote his first musical as a 16-year-old. The writer shared on Twitter that his first story "involved a dissected fetal pig rising up for revenge." Though the tale didn't make it to Broadway, it seems to have kickstarted Miranda's love for creating stories set to music. In his primary education, Miranda became more and more interested in writing and composing. Then, Miranda became even more serious about creating something memorable while attending Wesleyan University. 

"I remember thinking that I really had to leave with more than a degree," Miranda confessed to Parade. He told the publication that he "watched my parents struggle to pay for my sister's education and was keenly aware that my dad suddenly had three new jobs when I entered school." Miranda's drive paid off, and by the time he was a sophomore, he had penned the initial draft of "In the Heights." The actor then finished his "dream show" after graduating from college. "It's as simple and as complicated as writing what you know," Miranda said about his first Broadway musical.

For "Hamilton," Miranda didn't know right away that it would become one the biggest hits on Broadway. It started as a single song in collaboration with the director Thomas Kail, who also directed "In the Heights." Kail reportedly encouraged Miranda to run with the historical theme, which then became "a 10-track mixtape" and, of course, a celebrated "46-song musical," per The Guardian.

The political side of Lin-Manuel Miranda

Lin-Manuel Miranda grew up around politics, thanks to his father Luis Miranda. The senior Miranda was a "a community activist turned political consultant," according to The New York Times. Lin-Manuel remembered his dad working on political campaigns and therefore understood the process. But as a result, Lin-Manuel had no intention of following in his father's footsteps. "That's not interesting to me," he told PBS. The world had other plans, and Lin-Manuel turned into a political figure.

As a result of the devastating Hurricane Maria in Puerto Rico, Lin-Manuel was vocal to Congress, asking for aid to those impacted on the island. Though he was proud of his Puerto Rican heritage and used his power to help others, Lin-Manuel's opinions didn't always go over well. In fact, the "Hamilton" star found himself involved in a political scandal. He and Luis both publicly supported PROMESA, a 2016 act passed by the U.S. Congress, regarding Puerto Rico, "to essentially take control of the island's finances and renegotiate the debt," per NPR

Due to the success of "Hamilton," Miranda wanted to bring the musical to Puerto Rico. With himself playing the lead role, the star planned to open the show at the University of Puerto Rico. But some people in Puerto Rico considered the act a form of colonialism. So, "amid the threat of protest, the Mirandas abruptly announced they were going to move the production to the Fine Arts Center in San Juan," NPR reported.

The unique cast of Lin-Manuel Miranda's shows

One of the main reasons Lin-Manuel Miranda wrote his musical "In the Heights" was because at the time, "there was nothing in the musical canon with an all-Latino cast," he told Parade. Miranda then continued his quest for more diverse casting in his follow-up musical, "Hamilton." The show broke traditions, especially with actors of multiple races starring as historically white U.S. founding fathers.

After the release of the film adaption of "In the Heights," Miranda and those responsible for the film were criticized for underrepresenting Afro-Latinos in the casting process. "I didn't realize until making this movie that I didn't really get to see myself or people that look like my siblings that are darker than me on screen," Leslie Grace, an actor from the film, told The Root. In response to criticisms, the movie's director John Chu said, "When we were looking at the cast we tried to get the people who were best for those roles." Chu also told The Root, "We're not going to get everything right in a movie. We tried our best on all fronts of it." 

On Twitter, Miranda posted an apology. He also addressed the issue in an interview for The New Yorker. He said about general critiques of exclusion, "Every time you make a frame, people are going to point out what's not in the frame. And you go and you make the next thing. That's all that you can do, keep your head down and keep making s***."

Lin-Manuel Miranda's role as a dad

Lin-Manuel Miranda has two children with his wife, Vanessa Nadal. The oldest boy is Sebastian, and three years younger is the second boy Francisco. Though their father is a famous playwright, the kids aren't afraid to tell Miranda what they really think about his work. "It's interesting to see what their brains have picked up. The other day, my six-year-old son told me that one of my songs was too long," Miranda told Parade. He added about his kids, "I have two little test audiences!" But the critiques don't faze Miranda. "My kids are my No. 1 priority no matter what I'm doing," he said. Family is important to the actor, and the entire Miranda family often visits his parents and in-laws. Especially because many of them live in the same apartment building. "Living close by became incredibly important once Vanessa and I had children," Miranda said.

Miranda's family became especially close during restrictions from COVID-19 in 2020. "They've gotten so close as a result of being cooped up in the house, and it could have gone the other way! But they've actually become very close friends," Miranda told People about his boys. He also credited his wife for being the other half of his "tag team" to help homeschool the kids. One of Miranda's goals once more shops opened up was to walk around the neighborhood with his kids, "shopping locally and bringing them with me whenever I do."

Life for Lin-Manuel Miranda before and after Hamilton

Right before "Hamilton" took Broadway by storm, Lin-Manuel Miranda appeared in the stage version of "Tick, Tick... Boom!" A rehearsal video shows Miranda performing the musical by Johnathan Larson alongside "In the Heights" performer Karen Olivo and Miranda's future "Hamilton" cast mate Leslie Odom, Jr.

While he was in the process of creating "Hamilton," Miranda had the opportunity to speak with the late Broadway legend Stephen Sondheim. Reportedly, Sondheim asked Miranda what projects he was working on. "I'm working on this hip-hop album, like a 'Jesus Christ Superstar' concept album about Alexander Hamilton," Miranda told the composer (as he relayed to The New Yorker). Sondheim responded, "No one will expect that from you. That's amazing. Keep writing that." According to Miranda, he would periodically send Sondheim early versions of the songs and other ideas to get feedback from the famous composer. Unsurprisingly, Sondheim loved the music and lyrics that Miranda kept sending. The novelty of using hip-hop in the show particularly delighted Sondheim. "I remember he was really knocked out by 'Say No to This.' That one word of encouragement keeps you going for two years. That's fuel," Miranda explained. 

Of course, "Hamilton" became a hit thanks to Miranda. But the massive success meant that the expectations were sky-high to produce another hit. Instead, he followed the advice of movie director Robert Rodriguez who said that "the best way to avoid a sophomore slump is to do so much different s*** that no one can tell what your sophomore project is."