Since Hamilton first debuted on Broadway, it has been the hottest ticket in town – racking up award after award for it’s critically-lauded music, lyrics and storytelling. The hit hip-hop musical opened its door to sold out audiences in 2015 and five years later, the cast of Hamilton, which details the life of America’s founding father Alexander Hamilton, still remembers one specific day as their all-time favorite.
While speaking candidly with ESSENCE Entertainment Director Cori Murray during the 2020 ESSENCE Festival of Culture, Renée Elise Goldsberry, who plays Hamilton’s sister-in-law, gushed over the time she performed in front of Michelle Obama.
“You just reminded us of one of the most special ever, which is the opportunity to perform for our President,” Goldsberry shared with a beaming smile.
“For this show to be born during that administration and perform for them, I’ll be honest, I was way more nervous with Michelle than Barack,” Goldsberry added. “And I love them both so much. But that was probably the most humbling experience of my life — playing this character Angelica Schuyler that is so patterned off a queen of that stature. And to think I did a great job on the stage that night and then meet her.”
With the COVID-19 pandemic shifting the way we consume media and entertainment, Hamilton is now available to stream on Disney+. The film, which was recorded with the original 2016 cast, is ever more relevant amid Black Lives Matter protests, following the death of George Floyd.
“The world keeps changing and there’s new relevance to this art,” said Goldsberry. “When they first decided to have it come out on this independence weekend, we thought it was like, ‘Hey you guys here’s some theater on television,’ but we need to remember our humanity and come together. We thought it was about that then someone filmed George Floyd being murdered.”
Hamilton‘s impact on pop culture cannot be denied. The musical, written by Lin Manuel Miranda, makes it a prime tool to raise awareness around issues that continue to plague the country, such as freedom, autonomy and even enslavement.
“It became a show that melted into pop culture in a way theater has never been done before,” said Jasmine Cephas Jones, who played both Peggy Schuyler and Maria Reynolds in Hamilton.
“It gives ownership to all of the people in this country. It gives some entitlement to different voices at the table to answer some questions. You remember when you see us playing these foremothers and forefathers of our country that our ancestors also built this country and we have some really important ideas about what needs to happen so the great work they started is continued,” Goldsberry added.
Catch Hamilton on Disney+ now.