One of the most poignant live television moments in recent years has to be Lin-Manuel Miranda’s acceptance speech at the 70th Annual Tony Awards on June 12, 2016.
Lin, 39, scored many awards that evening for the musical Hamilton, yet his first win for Best Original Score is the one we remember the most. He recited his own poetry about the state of the world as he saw it only hours after the devastating tragedy that occurred at Pulse nightclub in Orlando, Florida.
My wife’s the reason anything gets done.
She nudges me towards promise by degrees.
She is a perfect symphony of one, our son is her most beautiful reprise.
We chase the melodies that seem to find us
until they’re finished songs and start to play.
When senseless acts of tragedy remind us
that nothing here is promised, not one day.
This show is proof that history remembers.
We live through times when hate and fear seem stronger.
We rise and fall and light from dying embers.
Remembrances that hope and love live longer.
And love is love is love is love is love is love is love cannot be killed or swept aside.
As sacred as a symphony, Eliza tells her story and fills the world with music love and pride.
There wasn’t a dry eye in Radio City Music Hall after he emotionally spoke those incredibly powerful words. His speech was something that resonated with the LGBTQ community that night as we were (and still are) collectively trying to process the nightmare that occurred to our people. Lin-Manuel’s words acted as a shining light for us in a very dark moment and still do to this very day.
I spoke with him about his iconic speech at the 19th Monte Cristo Awards in New York City on Tuesday, April 22. The Eugene O’Neill Theater Center played host to the annual ceremony that bestows its Monte Cristo Award on a prominent artist whose work has had an extraordinary impact on American theater, in memory of its namesake. It’s an honor that he has won in the past. This time around the honoree was John Logan, a prominent playwright and screenwriter whose credits include The Aviator and Gladiator.
“I didn’t honestly,” Lin-Manuel said after I asked if he was aware of the impact his words would have on our community. “I was responding in about as raw a way as anyone else was to the Pulse shooting earlier that day.”
“It was sort of, I don’t know, it was my best attempt to reckon with what had happened,” he continued. “I think that’s what you’re supposed to do as a writer is that your job is to meet the moment. Usually you have the benefit of time and years to work on a script, but that night I knew that if I were lucky enough to get up on stage I’d have to say something and I couldn’t ignore the day’s events. So that was my attempt.”
He recently reprised his role as Alexander Hamilton in Hamilton at the Luis A. Ferre Performing Arts Center in San Juan, Puerto Rico back in January. Lin-Manuel has also experienced a ton of success on the small and big screen in Mary Poppins Returns and Fosse/Verdon, the latter of which he executive produces.