Lack of diversity has been a common issue in show business, as the prevalence of all-white casts has been criticized for not accurately representing the United States’ demographics and limiting opportunities for minority actors. Largely minority casts are often considered gimmicks and isolating to white audiences, however, as seen in Tyler Perry movies. However, as the 21st century progresses, producers and casting directors are finally realizing the beauty and necessity of color-blind casting, an obvious solution to this glaring problem. The most recent example of this is Tony Award winner Lin-Manuel Miranda’s musical, “Hamilton.”
“Hamilton,” based on Ron Chernow’s biography of first Treasury Secretary Alexander Hamilton, received critical acclaim and financial success after premiering at the Public Theatre. Along with making history enjoyable and accessible, Miranda created one of the most diverse musical theater performances this year. Despite all of the founding fathers being white, the cast of “Hamilton” comprises black and Latino actors, including the Puerto Rican Miranda in the titular role opposite Leslie Odom Jr., the black actor who phenomenally portrays Hamilton’s rival, Aaron Burr.
As Miranda continually notes in interviews, Hamilton was an immigrant. He came to America as an orphan from the Caribbean with nothing and worked his way to becoming one of the most important figures in United States history — he is the embodiment of the American Dream.
Although “Hamilton” includes the numerous feats Hamilton accomplished during his life as well as Notorious B.I.G.-influenced numbers, neither of these are the most important part of the play. The most significant part, rather, is the realization that the races and ethnicities of the characters were irrelevant. The writing of “Hamilton” is fantastic, but each actor is brilliant in his or her role. By opening the roles to everyone, each actor truly earned his or her role. In doing so, the cast of “Hamilton” reflects the diversity of our country.
The founding fathers were white, but Americans are not, and American art should reflect that. It is time for Hollywood to adapt, because with “Hamilton,” Broadway’s already way ahead.
A version of this article appeared in the Thursday, April 9 print edition. Email Marissa Elliott Little at [email protected]