Composer, lyricist, rapper, singer, actor, playwright and producer Lin-Manuel Miranda is more than just a ‘multi-hyphenate’, he’s truly all of those things in their own right. He’s best known for creating and starring in smash-hit Broadway musicals Hamilton and In the Heights. It’s fantastic to get an insight into the role imagination plays in his journey.

On the radio show Desert Island Discs, celebrated names from all fields discuss their lives, influences and favourite songs, musing about what would keep them company as a castaway.

In this episode, Lin-Manuel Miranda shares his early influences and experiences of culture, both high-brow and escapist, and how a high-school play sparked his love of performing.

As a quiet child often left alone, and feeling like an all-round outsider, Lin-Manuel talks about how this was actually a positive thing for him. He cites all these “different parts” as having contributed to “a life of the mind…playing around in [his] own imagination”.

a life of the mind

Lin-Manuel Miranda, lyricist, composer and actor
As well as his early success with In the Heights, he was been involved in learning and teaching, and is still inspired by former students.

Undeniably, this access to imagination and seeing things in a different way contributed to his record-breaking success with Hamilton. Lin-Manuel talks about the power of words – of creativity – for understanding life. “Writing transcends your struggles”, he says.

He calls this emotional connection to music and the arts as a “superpower”, and harnessing it is what allows him to share with others and send powerful messages.

Listen to the episode on BBC Sounds.

Posted by:Sophie Sabin

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