“Hamilton” Actors See Musical Making Huge Impact Regarding Race On Broadway
People see actors in a rather tactless, artificial way. Walk into an audition room, and the agents and directors group people into types – sidekick, urban, insincere, etc. Actors are often told they didn’t fit a particular part – be it because they’re too ethnic or black or whatever. Look at “Guys and Dolls,” and it’s the reason it’s full of white people.
This is what Julia K. Harriman and Austin Scott faced as ambitious Broadway actors.
Then, came “Hamilton”, a revolutionary musical that ensured brought back the popularity of musical theater. This musical stressed a major change in how casting race was laid out. Instead of focusing on the Founding Fathers, the musical by Lin-Manuel Miranda puts the focus on color – any person regardless of their color.
Both Harriman and Scott said it’s the little change in thinking that ensured a world of opportunity was now open for them.
Scott, who portrays Alexander Hamilton, said he stepped into the audition room and wasn’t worried about being too black or urban. He could be himself. Scott said it was about his personality and character, which created an ambiance of acceptance and comfort.
Harriman’s experience is similar to Scott’s. Harriman is a biracial actor, playing Eliza Hamilton for the Hamilton production. As an actress, she has always had a hard time fitting into a niche. She said directors were often perplexed on how to cast her because her parents are different races.
Harriman said her auditions often go with you’re not white or Asian enough. She said she doesn’t fit a particular category. Harriman said she’s often labeled as Hispanic, which she isn’t and doesn’t feel it’s fair to people who are Hispanic.
Biracial actors and actress are often pushed into an unnamed category of not being a particular race of one kind and often seen as too ethnic for roles.
“Hamilton” doesn’t classify people by race, which has led to more actors of color.
Harriman said this has allowed her to play a leading role, even though the character looked nothing like her. She said the musical does away with racial stereotypes that come with typical casting. Harriman said there’s no reason to look one way or another.
Scott agrees with Harriman’s assessment, saying “Hamilton” has allowed for revolutionary themes in its story, which acts out the Revolutionary War and the start of the American government. The industry has reacted slowly to the musical’s idea and outlook on race being how the future will be.
Scott said Hamilton is just the beginning of a revolution, where there will be more inclusion in the future. Book Hamilton tickets with hamiltontickets.org and join!