Entertainment

He Created One Of The Most Talked About Musicals In Recent Memory And He’s Just Getting Started

Everybody knows who Lin-Manuel Miranda is at this point. Miranda is a straight-up Broadway musical nerd genius that has modernized both the stage and, well, American history in a revolutionary way: with rap. His play is one of the most talked about plays in recent memory and it is

Miranda is the brains and talent behind Hamilton, and learning where he comes from and what he’s up to these days will make you love him even more.

He was named from the title of a poem.

@Linmirandacom / Twitter

He was born to be a writer. His parents were avid fans of Puerto Rican poet José Manuel Torres Santiago and his poem about the Vietnam War, Nana Roja Para Mi Hijo Lin Manuel.

He grew up in Manhattan but spent his summers in Puerto Rico.

PBS

His father, Luis Miranda, was a community activist and political consultant and his mother, Dr. Luz Towns-Miranda was a psychologist. Like every good Puerto Rican parent, they would send him to spend time with his abuela y primos on the island every summer.

As a kid, he’d help his dad write jingles for political campaigns, including Eliot Spitzer’s 2006 gubernatorial campaign.

@Lin_Manuel / Twitter

Even when Miranda was in Hunter College’s elementary school, he was acting in student productions. He eventually went on to major in theater studies at Wesleyan University, where he co-founded a hip-hop comedy troupe called “Freestyle Love Supreme,” which is going strong to this day.

His wedding video went viral before Miranda did.

usnavi / YouTube

Of course, Miranda organized the bridal party to surprise his wife Vanessa Nadal “To Life” from “Fiddler on the Roof.” The video garnered over 6 million views, and he married the love of his life, who he happened to have a mad crush on in high school.

Pre-Hamilton and post-Tony award, he guest starred in a few TV shows, including Modern Family.

“MODERN FAMILY (ABC) Good Cop Bad Dog.” Digital Image. TV Equals. 11 December 2018.

In Season 2, Episode 22, Miranda plays a terrible dog trainer for Jay and Gloria’s beloved dog, Stella. He’s also played a recurring role in NBC’s Do No Harm, appeared in How I Met Your Mother and more.

The story goes that Miranda was inspired to write Hamilton after reading Ron Chernow’s 800-page biography of the late president.

@charrison1519 / Twitter

Miranda was on vacation in Mexico in 2008 when he decided to do a little ‘light reading’, according to his website. He became so enamored with the revolutionary and interested in the parallels between America’s first year in existence and America today that he just went to work.

It took him six years to write the play, a true masterpiece.

@playbill / Twitter

He spent one whole year just writing the song “My Shot”, want to make sure it perfectly captured the historical figure’s intellect. He even enlisted the help of Ron Chernow to fact-check all his lyrics.

He was awarded the Kennedy Center Honor for his work on Hamilton.

@HamiltonMusical / Twitter

The Kennedy Center Chairman David M. Rubenstein said in a statement that, “the creators of Hamilton have literally and figuratively changed the face of American culture with daringly original, breathtakingly relevant work.”

His last performance tickets sold for $10k per seat.

@musicaltheatree / Twitter

He vowed that he would return to the stage again after his last July 9, 2016 performance. Since then, a documentary about the creation of his show has been released, Hamilton’s America. That’s right. A whole documentary and book are dedicated to the process of creating Hamilton.

Today, he’s one Oscar win away from becoming a rare PEGOT.

@Disney / Twitter

Sounds like I said peacock, but a PEGOT is someone who has won a Pulitzer, Emmy, Grammy, Oscar, and Tony award. He’s won one Pulitzer, three Tonys, three Grammys, an Emmy, two Olivier Awards and the recipient of a “Genius Grant” from the MacArthur Fellows Program.

On November 30, 2018, he got his very own star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame.

People are now naming their babies “Hamilton.”

@kdmayala / Twitter

There was a 60 percent increase in the last year alone for babies being named Hamilton, according to BabyCenter.com. Oh, and que cute that he pens Spanglish ‘cheer up’ letters to niñas that cry to their tías about how much they want to see the performance.

Miranda just released a book of pep poems.

@yoitsalyj / Twitter

It all started when he started posting g’morning and g’night tweets for his fans (literally before Hamilton was even out). Here’s an excerpt:

“Good night now, and rest.

Today was a test.

You passed it, you’re past it.

Now breathe till unstressed.”

The book is already a New York Times Bestseller!

Behind the scenes, Miranda was busy co-writing the songs to Disney’s Moana soundtrack.

@THR / Twitter

For a single song, “How Far I’ll Go”, Miranda earned a Golden Globe, Critics’ Choice, Oscar an Grammy Award nomination. He’s also contributed to Star Wars: The Force Awakens (2015) songwriting.

Miranda also helped composed Bring It On: The Musical.

@playbill / Twitter

It was nominated for a Tony Best Musical just four years before Miranda’s own musical would break all Tony records by being nominated for 16 Tony Awards, 11 of which it won, including Best Musical. 

He’s starring in Disney’s sequel to Julie Andrews’ Mary Poppins.

@Lin_Manuel / Twitter

Mary Poppins Returns will be his first major role since leaving the Broadway cast. In it, he plays Jack, a former mentee of Bert, the chimney sweeper originally played by Dick Van Dyke.

You can find him on the big screen on December 19, 2018!

Miranda named his son, Sebastian, after the singing crab in Disney’s The Little Mermaid.

@EW / Twitter

Oh, and he’s co-writing the entire live-action reboot of Disney’s classic tale and even co-producing the film with Marc Platt. That’s all we know for now.

Miranda and Obama bromanced hard back in the day.

Untitled. Screenshot. NBC New York. 11 December 2018.

Miranda performed a slice of Hamilton at the White House Evening of Poetry, Music and the Spoken Word and was immediately invited back. This time, to do a freestyling battle with POTUS in the Rose Garden. What the…..

Aunque, Miranda continues to condem Trump for his presidency.

PBS

In an interview with PBS, Miranda said that he is “very good with words, but these were the only words I had left.” In the days of eerie silence from Puerto Rico after Hurricane Maria hit, Miranda was worried about his family.

He’s begrudgingly stepped into the activist seat for Puerto Rico.

PBS

In the same interview with PBS, he started by saying, “I am so uncomfortable to be here right now. I would so much rather be writing a new musical.” But someone has to do something for Puerto Rico and Miranda has a platform that his father must be so proud he’s earned.

Miranda wrote and organized 22 Latinx artists to create the song “Almost Like Praying”, which raised $22 million for PR.

PBS

Names like Marc Anthony, Camila Cabello, Jennifer Lopez, Luis Fonsi, Gloria Estefan, and so, so many more joined in on this track, which was inspired by West Side Story. The song “Maria” includes a line, “say it [Maria] soft, and it’s almost like praying.” This takes on a whole new meaning when we think about how Hurricane Maria has obliterated the island.

Once again, Miranda’s genius goes to good work for the Hispanic Federation’s UNIDOS Disaster Relief and Recovery Program.

Oh, and he convinced the U.S. Treasury to cancel its plans to replace Hamilton on the $10 bill.

@THR / Twitter

Never forget that time that the cast of Hamilton addressed Mike Pence in the audience directly, telling him:

“We, sir — we are the diverse America who are alarmed and anxious that your new administration will not protect us, our planet, our children, our parents, or defend us and uphold our inalienable rights. We truly hope that this show has inspired you to uphold our American values and to work on behalf of all of us.”


READ: If You’ve Been Following Lin-Manuel Miranda On Twitter, It Should Be No Surprise That He Has A Book Deal

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America Ferrera Celebrates 20th Anniversary Of Working On ‘Gotta Kick It Up’ With Sweet IG Post

Entertainment

America Ferrera Celebrates 20th Anniversary Of Working On ‘Gotta Kick It Up’ With Sweet IG Post

It has been 20 years since America Ferrera’s dream of becoming an actor back true. She took to Instagram to reflect on the moment that her dream started to come true and it is a sweet reminder that anyone can chase their dreams.

America Ferrera shared a sweet post reflecting on the 20th anniversary of working on “Gotta Kick It Up!”

“Gotta Kick It Up!” was one of the earliest examples of Latino representation so many of us remember. The movie follows a school dance team trying to be the very best they could possibly be. The team was down on their luck but a new teacher introduces them to a different kind of music to get them going again.

After being introduced to Latin beats, the dance team is renewed. It taps into a cultural moment for the Latinas on the team and the authenticity of the music makes their performances some of the best.

While the movie meant so much to Latino children seeing their culture represented for the first time, the work was a major moment for Ferrera. In the Instagram post, she gushes over the celebrities she saw on the lot she was working on. Of course, anyone would be excited to see Jennifer Aniston and Brad Pitt hanging out. Yet, what stands out the most is Ferrera’s own excitement to realize that she can make money doing what she loves most.

“I wish I could go back and tell this little baby America that the next 20 years of her life will be filled with unbelievable opportunity to express her talent and plenty of challenges that will allow her to grow into a person, actress, producer, director, activist that she is very proud and grateful to be. We did it baby girl. I’m proud of us,” Ferrera reflects.

Watch the trailer for “Gotta Kick It Up!” here.

READ: America Ferrera’s “Superstore” Is Going To Get A Spanish-Language Adaptation In A Win For Inclusion

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This Artist Has Been Breaking Barriers As A Non-Traditional Mariachi

Entertainment

This Artist Has Been Breaking Barriers As A Non-Traditional Mariachi

On a recent episode of ABC’s game show To Tell The Truth, three celebrity panelists were tasked to uncover the identity of a real mariachi singer.

Each contender embodied “non-traditional” attributes of mariachi culture either through physical appearance or language barriers, leaving the panelists stumped.

When it came time for the big reveal, with a humble smile 53-year-old Timoteo “El Charro Negro” stood up wowing everyone. Marveled by his talents, Timoteo was asked to perform unveiling his smooth baritone voice.

While not a household name in the U.S., his career spans over 25 years thriving on the catharsis of music.

Timoteo “El Charro Negro” performing “Chiquilla Linda” on Dante Night Show in 2017.

Originally from Dallas, Texas, Timoteo, born Timothy Pollard, moved to Long Beach, California with his family when he was eight years old. The move to California exposed Pollard to Latin culture, as the only Black family in a Mexican neighborhood.

As a child, he recalled watching Cantinflas because he reminded him of comedian Jerry Lewis, but musically he “got exposed to the legends by chance.”

“I was bombarded by all the 1960s, ’70s, and ’50s ranchera music,” Timoteo recalls to mitú.

The unequivocal passion mariachi artists like Javier Solis and Vicente Fernandez possessed heavily resonated with him.

“[The neighbors] always played nostalgic music, oldies but goodies, and that’s one thing I noticed about Mexicans,” Timoteo says. “They can be in their 20s but because they’ve grown up listening to the oldies it’s still very dear to them. That’s how they party.”

For as long as he can remember, Pollard “was born with the genetic disposition to love music,” knowing that his future would align with the arts.

After hearing Vicente Fernandez sing “Lástima Que Seas Ajena,” an awakening occurred in Pollard. While genres like hip-hop and rap were on the rise, Pollard’s passion for ranchera music grew. It was a moment when he realized that this genre best suited his big voice.

Enamored, Pollard began to pursue a career as a Spanish-language vocalist.

El Charro Negro
Photo courtesy of Timothy Pollard.

At 28, Timoteo began learning Spanish by listening and singing along to those artists he adored in his youth.

“When I decided that I wanted to be a mariachi, I didn’t think it was fair to exploit the culture and not understand the language,” he says. “If I’m going to sing, I need to be able to communicate with my audience and engage with them. I need to understand what I’m saying because it was about honor and respect.”

Pollard began performing local gigs after picking up the language in a matter of months. He soon attracted the attention of “Big Boy” Radio that adorned him the name Timoteo “El Charro Negro.”

Embellishing his sound to highlight his Black heritage, Pollard included African instruments like congas and bongos in his orchestra. Faintly putting his own spin on a niche genre, Pollard avoided over-saturating the genre’s sound early in his career.

Embraced by his community as a beloved mariachi, “El Charro Negro” still encountered race-related obstacles as a Black man in the genre.

“There are those [in the industry] who are not in the least bit thrilled to this day. They won’t answer my phone calls, my emails, my text messages I’ve sent,” he says. “The public at large hasn’t a problem with it, but a lot of the time it’s those at the helm of decision making who want to keep [the genre] exclusively Mexican.”

“El Charro Negro” persisted, slowly attracting fans worldwide while promoting a message of harmony through his music.

In 2007, 12 years into his career, Pollard received a golden ticket opportunity.

El Charro Negro
Pollard (left) seen with legendary Mexican artist Vicente Fernandez (right) in 2007. Photo courtesy of Timothy Pollard.

In a by-chance encounter with a stagehand working on Fernandez’s tour, Pollard was offered the chance to perform onstage. The singer was skeptical that the offer was legit. After all, what are the chances?

The next day Pollard went to his day job at the time and said, “a voice in my head, which I believe was God said, ‘wear your blue velvet traje tonight.'”

That evening Pollard went to a sold-out Stockton Area where he met his idol. As he walked on the stage, Pollard recalls Fernandez insisting that he use his personal mic and band to perform “De Que Manera Te Olvido.”

“[Fernandez] said he did not even want to join me,” he recollects about the show. “He just was kind and generous enough to let me sing that song on his stage with his audience.”

The crowd applauded thunderously, which for Pollard was a sign of good things to come.

El Charro Negro
Timoteo “El Charro Negro” with Don Francisco on Don Francisco Presenta in 2011. Photo courtesy of Timothy Pollard.

In 2010, he released his debut album “Me Regalo Contigo.” In perfect Spanish, Pollard sings with great conviction replicating the soft tones of old-school boleros.

Unraveling the rollercoaster of relationships, heart-wrenchingly beautiful ballads like “Me Regalo Contigo” and “Celos” are his most streamed songs. One hidden gem that has caught the listener’s attention is “El Medio Morir.”

As soon as the track begins it is unlike the others. Timoteo delivers a ’90s R&B love ballad in Spanish, singing with gumption as his riffs and belts encapsulate his unique sound and story.

Having appeared on shows like Sabado Gigante, Don Francisco Presenta, and Caso Cerrado in 2011, Timoteo’s career prospered.

Timoteo hasn’t released an album since 2010 but he keeps his passion alive. The singer has continued to perform, even during the Covid pandemic. He has high hopes for future success and original releases, choosing to not slow down from his destined musical journey.

“If God is with me, who can be against me? It may not happen in a quick period of time, but God will make my enemies my footstool,” he said.

“I’ve continued to be successful and do some of the things I want to do; maybe not in a particular way or in particular events, but I live in a very happy and fulfilled existence.”

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