Phillipa Soo shared a video of a little girl who shows why Hamilton and its diverse cast are doing something right
We already know that representation matters. It’s so, so important for kids (and adults) to be able to see themselves in their books, movies, TV shows, and other media, in a wide variety of roles. That’s a big part of what’s so touching about the video Hamilton actress Phillipa Soo just shared of a little girl watching the play’s new movie release, pointing to the screen and saying “It’s me.”
“Little Jenna here is exactly why #representationmatters,” Soo wrote alongside the video, which was also shared by Hamilton creator Lin-Manuel Miranda. “I am so grateful for this show, that so many young people can watch this show and say ‘It’s me.'”
Soo is Chinese-American, and the little girl in the video, who sports an adorable pink unicorn shirt, is also Asian. Watching Soo perform onscreen in Hamilton, the adorable child points to her and declares, “Look, it’s me.” Her mom corrects her, saying, “That’s Eliza.” But little Jenna looks intently back to the screen and firmly repeats, “It’s me.” It’s such a sweet moment, and just another demonstration of why it’s so important to put diverse actors in diverse roles — or, in Hamilton‘s case, a lot of diverse actors playing a group of historical figures who are all white.
This comes at an interesting time for Hamilton, as the play has been receiving criticism since its launch on Disney Plus amid our country’s ongoing racial reckoning. Critics have accused Miranda of casting BIPOC actors for white roles as a type of virtue signaling, while still writing a play that glorifies seriously flawed men and almost completely glosses over the fact that most of the founding fathers bought, sold, and owned slaves. In particular, people have been calling out Miranda’s portrayal of Hamilton as a pro-immigration abolitionist, when historians generally agree that he was neither.
Loved Hamilton but its near erasure of slavery in the narrative is like a musical about Hitler that focuses on the painting.
— Gianmarco Soresi (@GianmarcoSoresi) July 4, 2020
Miranda himself recently addressed the criticism on Twitter, responding to a thread pointing out the cultural shift that has already occurred between now and 2015, when Hamilton first opened in New York.
Appreciate you so much, @brokeymcpoverty. All the criticisms are valid. The sheer tonnage of complexities & failings of these people I couldn’t get. Or wrestled with but cut. I took 6 years and fit as much as I could in a 2.5 hour musical. Did my best. It’s all fair game. https://t.co/mjhU8sXS1U
— Lin-Manuel Miranda (@Lin_Manuel) July 6, 2020
“All the criticisms are valid,” he wrote. “The sheer tonnage of complexities & failings of these people I couldn’t get. Or wrestled with but cut. I took 6 years and fit as much as I could in a 2.5 hour musical. Did my best. It’s all fair game.”
Even amid that criticism, what “Hamilton” provides when it comes to representation is invaluable and little Jenna’s reaction is proof.