The Tony Awards may be the last place you’d expect to see a winner rap his or her acceptance speech, but that’s what happened when Lin-Manuel Miranda won his first Tony on June 15, 2008 — 11 years ago this week.
Miranda won best original score for In the Heights and proceeded to demonstrate his MC skills — “I used to dream about this moment/Now I’m in it/Tell the conductor to hold the baton a minute,” he began. He alluded to Stephen Sondheim’s 1984 song about the creative process, “Finishing the Hat” — “Mr. Sondheim, look, I made a hat/Where there never was a hat/It’s a Latin hat, at that.” Miranda concluded his remarks by thanking “all my Latino people” and pulling a flag of Puerto Rico out of the pocket of his tux.
You could argue that Miranda became a star at the 62nd annual Tony Awards, held at New York’s Radio City Music Hall and hosted by Whoopi Goldberg. At 28, he became the youngest winner for best original score. In the Heights won three other Tonys — best musical, best choreography and best orchestrations.
The show brought Miranda other honors as well. He shared a Drama Desk Award for outstanding ensemble performance and a Grammy for best musical show album. Miranda and book writer Quiara Alegría Hudes were finalists for the Pulitzer Prize for Drama.
So the show was, by any standard, a big success. But for Miranda, it was just the warm-up for what came next, Hamilton: An American Musical. That 2015 phenomenon received a record 16 Tony nominations. It won 11 awards, just one shy of the all-time record held by The Producers – The New Mel Brooks Musical.
Hamilton made Miranda just the third person in Broadway history — following Rupert Holmes and Jonathan Larson — to single-handedly write the book, music and lyrics of a Tony winner for best musical. (Anaïs Mitchell, the creator of Hadestown, just became the fourth person, and the first woman, to achieve this feat.)
Hamilton brought Miranda two Tonys, best original score and best book of a musical, and a Grammy in the best musical show album category. It also brought him the Pulitzer Prize for Drama. As if all that wasn’t enough, the creators of Hamilton — Miranda, Thomas Kail, Alex Lacamoire and Andy Blankenbuehler — were saluted at the Kennedy Center Honors in 2018 for their work on the show.
Miranda has gone on to conquer other mediums as well. In 2014, he and Tom Kitt won an Emmy for outstanding original music and lyrics for “Bigger!,” host Neil Patrick Harris‘ sensational opening number on the 2013 Tony Awards. In 2016, Miranda was nominated for an Oscar for best song for “How Far I’ll Go” from Moana. The song didn’t win, but it did snag a Grammy (Miranda’s third) for best song written for visual media. It’s just a matter of time before Miranda brings home an Oscar and completes his EGOT.
Miranda co-produced a film version of In the Heights, which is set for release on June 26, 2020. Jon M. Chu directed the film, which stars Anthony Ramos, Corey Hawkins and Marc Anthony, among others.