While the doom and gloom of the winter months have kept the start of the semester pretty bleak, the Student Union Board of Governors’ annual Winter Weekend has got huskies covered for a weekend of fun whether you are on campus or at home.
To kick off the weekend’s festivities, SUBOG hosted a virtual Q&A on Thursday night with actor, singer and songwriter Anthony Ramos. Ramos is best known for originating the dual roles of John Laurens and Philip Hamilton in the smash-hit Broadway musical and cultural phenomenon, “Hamilton.”
Moderated by Jasmine Comulada, Ramos was asked a wide range of questions, where he was able to speak to his experience as a Latino performer in the modern entertainment industry. He explained that now, more than ever, is the time for BIPOC to not only be present on screen, but to be present backstage and writing the stories being put onto the screen.
“I encourage anybody, period, to write,” Ramos said. “Write music, write a script, write a story, write a poem, write, just write. Even if you don’t feel like you are a good writer, write because everyone has something unique to say.”
“There has only been one group of people that have had the platform and the opportunity to say what they wanted to say from their perspective”
“Historically in Hollywood,” Ramos said. “There has only been one group of people that have had the platform and the opportunity to say what they wanted to say from their perspective. Now it’s kinda opening up, and I want to encourage anyone, especially people of color, write write write, because the door’s finally opening up and people want to hear it.”
Ramos acknowledged that many BIPOC in the entertainment industry hesitate to tell their stories out of fear of negative reactions from the public, reflecting on a meeting with Jon M. Chu, director of “In the Heights” that was held days before the release of Chu’s other film “Crazy Rich Asians.” Chu was nervous about the upcoming release, yet the film proved to be a smashing success, much like many other projects depicting BIPOC and their stories.
Ramos will star as the leading role of Usnavi in the upcoming film “In the Heights,” the movie adaptation of Miranda’s first Tony Award-winning musical. While it has wrapped production and was originally set to premiere in the summer of 2020, “In the Heights” is now slated to be released this June. Ramos was asked what three words he would use to describe “In the Heights.”
“That’s what that movie was: full of love. We made it with love, everybody gave their all, everybody poured their hearts out and it feels true, real, raw and electric”
“Full of love,” Ramos said. “That’s what that movie was: full of love. We made it with love, everybody gave their all, everybody poured their hearts out and it feels true, real, raw and electric. It’s like a slice of life that people so happen to be singing and dancing in.”
Ramos was also asked, having now performed on both stage and screen, to reflect on the difference in experiences.
“The electricity of live performance,” Ramos said. “And just feeling people’s energy, and being in a room full of people who are there to see the thing you made and are about to go on this journey with you; there is nothing like it.”
Ramos explained that while in live theatre, you have the opportunity to perfect your performance with each night, in film, you shoot one scene at a time. But once the scene is finished, there is no way to go back and redo it with a tight schedule.
“I remember when we were shooting [In the Heights], there is a number in the show called ‘96,000’ and we shot it at this pool in Washington Heights, and the water was cold. It was gloomy out. When y’all see that movie, it’s gonna look like the sunniest day you’ve ever seen. The visual effects are amazing in that.”
Despite the challenge at hand, however, Ramos explained that the cast came together to still create something magical.
“There was something so amazing in seeing the cast come together and cheer each other on. Everyone’s in the water freezing, but we didn’t care how cold the water was because we were doing something so much greater than us. We’re telling a story that our ancestors never got to tell.”
For more information about SUBOG’s Winter Weekend, follow live updates on SUBOG’s Instagram account, @subogatuconn.