As the star of the movie adaptation of “In the Heights,” Anthony Ramos looks poised to conquer Hollywood as smoothly as he did Broadway.
The 29-year-old actor, who graces the cover of The Hollywood Reporter’s May 26 issue, reflects in the accompanying interview on the challenges he’s experienced during his rise to fame. Upon graduation from his high school in Brooklyn, New York, he enrolled at the prestigious American Musical and Dramatic Academy. During his years as an aspiring thespian, he says, he was urged to downplay his Puerto Rican heritage in auditions.
“Folks would say to me that if you grow your hair out and speak in American Standard, you can be more ethnically ambiguous; you won’t be in the ‘Latino box,’” he explained. “I thought that shit was a box, as opposed to being a superpower and just who I am.”
Ramos had an epiphany after catching a 2011 performance of “In the Heights” on Broadway. Written by Lin-Manuel Miranda, the Tony-winning musical takes place in Washington Heights, a largely Dominican neighborhood in New York, and has been hailed as a celebration of Latinx culture. Four years later, Ramos began his own association with Miranda when he originated the dual roles of John Laurens and Philip Hamilton in Broadway’s “Hamilton.”
Since then, Ramos has transitioned from stage to film, with supporting roles in big-screen hits like 2018’s “A Star Is Born” with Bradley Cooper and Lady Gaga. His success, he said, serves as a reminder that being authentic is not only important to an actor’s mental health and well-being ― it’s also critical in establishing a connection with an audience.
“I believed that [box] shit for a little bit, but I don’t want to be hired for being ambiguous,” he said. “I want to be hired for who the fuck I am ... Until the day I die, I’m going to be proud of where I’m from. That was the shit. Some of the days were hard, but every day was more than worth it.”
Early reviews of Ramos’ performance in “In the Heights,” which his theaters June 11, have been raves. Later this summer, he’ll unveil a new pop album, “Love and Lies,” which ― if successful ― could establish him as a Hollywood triple threat, like Olivia Rodrigo of Disney’s “High School Musical” series revival.
Describing his new songs as “12 bangers,” Ramos told THR he sees “Love and Lies” as reflective of the country’s mood as the COVID-19 pandemic continues to wane.
“People don’t want to be in their feelings,” he quipped. “They want to be getting lit!”