Game Changers 2015: Lin-Manuel Miranda


It might come as a surprise that Barack Obama was so moved by Lin-Manuel Miranda’s latest Broadway show that he gave it a standing ovation. But it shouldn’t: After all, its subject, Alexander Hamilton, was always known to have the president’s ear. 

Now he has everyone else’s, too. Miranda, who scored big in 2008 with In the Heights, has found both love and money with Hamilton, his inspired retelling of the Federalist founding father’s story set to a hip-hop soundtrack, which has been taking in more than a million dollars a week. 

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So how did this unlikely marriage of rap and George Washington’s wingman come to be? Six years ago, Miranda took Ron Chernow’s bio Alexander Hamilton on vacation. “I just wanted a good beach read,” he says. Instead what he found was inspiration in Hamilton’s life as a penniless orphan in St. Croix who witnessed unspeakable horrors but eventually found freedom and success through his gifts as a writer. 

“His life followed the hip-hop narrative we’re so familiar with, from Jay Z to Eminem to Biggie Smalls,” says Miranda, who wrote and stars in the show. “They were talented hustlers who wrote their way out of their circumstance.” 

Miranda? He’s written his way into another smash hit.