Someone rather close to me asked me today,” What is the big deal about Hamilton anyways”
I said ” Beside it’s breathtaking and clever soundtrack, amazing acting, choreography and staging, I think what made Hamilton such a hit was it’s racially inclusive”
” Okay but you know that during the casting they specifically said they were looking for non- white actors?”
“Yes and I think that’s wonderful”
“You really have become a liberal white hating racist haven’t you. You’re just another white hating socialist [which wasn’t even the end of their rant, but hey ]
Okay I’m going to step aside from the horrible comment for a moment and break it down why the casting for Hamilton was NOT racist action.
Throughout the history of Hollywood and Broadway shows have repeatedly been filled with people of white descent, to the point (which is even still true today, hence the popular hashtag #OscarsSoWhite ) that roles written about people of color have been filled by white actors, while roles given to actors of color tend to only portray stereotypes or historical roles
The argument has always been ” well the best person for the job should get it” And that’s true, but what happens more often than not is no one even bothers to look for the actors of color to play those parts, making POCs feel like they aren’t needed and unwanted in the industry. There’s a whole pyramid of decisions and mindsets that need to be changed
When Lin- Manuel Miranda got the inspiration for Hamilton, a penniless immigrant who made it in America, he found the best way to do a modern version of the story would be to use the voice of immigrants today. Yes the historical characters of Hamilton were white, yet he chose to use actors of color not to spite white people, but because he thought the immigrants, enlighterners, and people who were striving for a revolution in 1776, could best be told by people of color who are trying to do the same 2016. This blind casting has shown that actors of color don’t have to stick to their traditional roles society has given them because of how they look.
I’m sorry to any white actors who may feel like they are being left out of this stunning musicals, but realize that there significantly more opportunities for you both on Broadway ( any Roger/Hammerstein, Sondheim, Weber, Fossie, even my favorite musicals: Chicago and Finding Neverland) and in Hollywood.
The inclusiveness of Hamilton should’t be seen as an act against white people, but as an opportunity for those who haven’t had the chance to ever be the leading star because no one else was looking for someone like them. Representation matters, because now so many aspiring young writers, actors, dancers, etc are starting to see that it absolutely can be them working in the Broadway, and hopefully movie industry as well. And not just as another token or type casted role
Hamilton is more than a big deal, it’s a revolution, it’s changing the face of Broadway as we know it to be, and this is only the beginning.
Addendum: I am unashamedly a liberal feminist, who just wants equality and representation.
As hamilton said ” I will not equivocate on my opinion, I have always worn it on my sleeve… I don’t want to fight but I won’t apologize for doing what’s right”