Tony award-winning actor, playwright, and composer Lin-Manuel Miranda, most famous for writing the Broadway success In the Heights
, grew up in the Inwood section of Manhattan and not in Washington Heights, as some people have assumed. He is of Puerto Rican descent and speaks Spanish fluently. As a youngster, Lin-Manuel didn't feel he belonged to any particular community. He was a very rich kid in his neighborhood while being the only Puerto Rican at his prestigious school. A self-confessed outsider, Miranda simply observed the rich culture of the contrasting communities he was immersed in. Miranda was exposed to Latin sound and Broadway musicals even as he and his friends were obsessing over hip-hop music. All of these influences would later mesh as he wrote his first full-length musical at the university.
Lin-Manuel would commute to and from the elite public Hunter College elementary and high schools on the Upper East Side. After finishing high school, he attended Wesleyan University, where he wrote and performed in several Shakespeare and musical productions. While there, he also began writing In the Heights
and met fellow artists who helped him with the play. Miranda earned his degree in theater studies with honors and continued working on the musical. In April 2000, he was able to book the Wesleyan student-run '92 Theater and performed In the Heights
for the first time, breaking box office records for The Second Stage. Between then and its Broadway premiere in March 2008, Miranda labored in completing his award-winning and critically-praised masterpiece while collaborating with other talented individuals from the theater community in New York.
Apart from his work on stage, Lin-Manuel has composed music for commercials and New York City political candidates Fernando Ferrer, Carl McCall, and Eliot Spitzer
. He also wrote as a columnist and restaurant reviewer for the Manhattan Times
. Miranda has also appeared in rap and comedy sketch shows such as his performance in April 2009 at Hip Hop Karaoke in Brooklyn, New York where he received rave reviews for his rendition of "The Choice is Yours" by Black Sheep
. In May 2009, he added another feather in his cap as he became the youngest recipient of an honorary degree from Yeshiva University. The same year, Lin-Manuel Miranda was cast to portray Hugh Laurie
's mental facility roommate at the beginning of House
' sixth season.