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What Broadway's 'Hamilton' Can Teach Hollywood About Diversity | The Huffington Post

What Broadway's 'Hamilton' Can Teach Hollywood About Diversity | The Huffington Post EDITION US عربي (Arabi) Australia Brasil Canada Deutschland España France Ελλάδα (Greece) India Italia 日本 (Japan) 한국 (Korea) Maghreb México Québec (En Francais) United Kingdom United States INFORM • INSPIRE • ENTERTAIN • EMPOWER NEWS WorldPost Highline Science Education Weird News Business TestKitchen Tech College Media POLITICS Pollster Election Results Eat the Press HuffPost Hill Candidate Confessional So That Happened ENTERTAINMENT Sports Comedy Celebrity Books Entertainment TV Arts + Culture WELLNESS Healthy Living Travel Style Taste Home Weddings Divorce Sleep GPS for the Soul WHAT'S WORKING Impact Green Good News Global Health VOICES Black Voices Latino Voices Women Fifty Religion Queer Voices Parents Teen College VIDEO ALL SECTIONS Arts + Culture Black Voices Books Business Candidate Confessional Celebrity College Comedy Crime Divorce Dolce Vita Eat the Press Education Election Results Entertainment Fifty Good News Green Healthy Living Highline Home Horoscopes HuffPost Data HuffPost Hill Impact Latino Voices Media Outspeak Parents Politics Pollster Queer Voices Religion Science Small Business So That Happened Sports Style Taste Tech Teen TestKitchen Travel TV Weddings Weird News Women WorldPost FEATURED GPS for the Soul Hawaii OWN Dr. Phil Quiet Revolution Talk to Me Don't Stress the Mess Endeavor Fearless Dreamers Generation Now Inspiration Generation Paving the Way The Power Of Humanity Sleep + Wellness What's Working: Purpose + Profit What's Working: Small Businesses What Broadway's 'Hamilton' Can Teach Hollywood About Diversity Think a diverse cast isn't "universal" enough? 01/21/2016 04:04 pm ET 7.4k Sara Boboltz Entertainment Editor, The Huffington Post Joan Marcus Actor Lin-Manuel Miranda, far right, as American revolutionary Alexander Hamilton. Imagine a film about one of our nation's great forefathers. He's a bootstrapping young man, born to white parents in the Caribbean, who came to New York to study. But, soon after his arrival, he leapt into the British colonies' nascent revolution. He advised Gen. George Washington, led a decisive battle in the Revolutionary War, passionately advocated for the Constitution's ratification, and served as the young United States' first Secretary of the Treasury.  Now, what if the actor playing this storied figure in American history is of Puerto Rican descent? And what if the other major players in the story -- Washington, Thomas Jefferson, James Madison, Eliza Schuyler -- were actors of color? In an industry currently under fire for lack of representation in all areas -- behind the camera and in front of it -- it's very difficult to imagine Hollywood would do anything but cast along expected racial lines. And sure, there's not much wiggle room in a retelling of actual historical events, if history is indeed a selling point. Yet the Broadway musical "Hamilton," which tells the real-life story of Alexander Hamilton and his fellow revolutionaries through a shockingly diverse cast, is a critical and commercial smash hit. Tickets are sold out until December 2016. When a lottery opened online for fans to win $10 reserved seats, the website crashed under the load of 50,000 people trying to enter . (The online lottery still hasn't reopened.)  "Hamilton" is among the five  top-grossing Broadway shows  this season. Hollywood studio executives -- the people who decide which films are made and which are not -- are said to shy away from diverse casting in the name of telling more "universal" stories that appeal to the broadest audience. Too many, for example, black actors, and you have "a black film" that won't appeal to anyone but black people.  Yes, moviemaking is a risky business. Studios have bills to pay and stakeholders to please -- they need to crank out films that appeal to a lot of people just to make ends meet. Executives' presumption, though obviously flawed, is that whiteness is some kind of human default setting, and despite being a large part of the world off-screen, actors of color impede a film's attempt to speak to large numbers of ticket-buyers. For some reason, studios consider white actors not limiting whatsoever. Joan Marcus Actors Phillipa Soo as Eliza Hamilton, Renee Elise Goldsberry as Angelica Schuyler and Jasmine Cephas Jones as Peggy Schuyler. "Hamilton," though, spits in the face of that logic. The show's only white lead is England's King George III. Its titular character is played by Lin-Manuel Miranda, a Latino who wrote the script, flavoring the historical tale with hip-hop musical numbers. Other lead actors -- Leslie Odom Jr. plays Aaron Burr, Christopher Jackson plays Washington, Daveed Diggs plays Jefferson and Phillipa Soo plays Schuyler -- are all black or biracial. At its heart, "Hamilton" is a white story told effectively and entertainingly by people of color. It's hugely appealing to Broadway audiences -- a group that, according to the Broadway L