Lin-Manuel Miranda, the mastermind behind the Broadway plays Hamilton and In The Heights, is a prolific actor, composer, rapper, and songwriter, up for an oscar nomination this year. He is being recognized for best original song, How Far I’ll Go in the film Moana, a 2016 musical adventure by Walt Disney Animation Studios. Through his powerful use of words, he gives the character Moana, a strong, funny, rebellious young woman her singing voice with a chance to prove herself to the world.
Background of Moana
Moana is a driven teenager out-growing her island life. Miranda likens Moana to that of a bad-ass girl on a mission, determined to take the Hero’s Journey. “She has no love interest. She’s not trying to find a prince.” Miranda says. What resonated most for Miranda is her sense that she had a calling. And he liked that, no matter what, she must follow her own North Star. She knew she had to heed the call. In the film, Moana adamantly declares, “I am not a princess!” and remains focused on her quest to follow her destiny.
Without her strong musical voice, Moana would be ill-equipped to communicate her dreams and embark on a daring voyage to show she is no ordinary girl. Instead, she is a master of the seas out to fulfill her ancestors’ unfinished quest. During her journey, Moana encounters the demi-god Maui, and together they travel the vast ocean, facing dangerous creatures and great adversity.
Why This Story was a Fit for Lin-Manuel Miranda
Miranda relates to this young heroine personally, having grown up off 200th street in New York. Coming from that neighborhood, the chance of him having a real opportunity to write songs for Broadway and now nominated for a best original song for a Disney movie, seemed nothing short of impossible.
According to the Daily Beast, Miranda was deeply influenced by Walt Disney films growing up. As a kid, he watched them with a love and appreciation for the art of animation and song. His favorite Disney film is Little Mermaid and his favorite character was Sebastian the Crab, because he was a songwriter, and a composer.
Miranda’s string of successes were achieved by age 37. If Miranda goes home with an Oscar on the night of the Academy Awards, he will have taken his creative career to new heights. He is just one win away from receiving all four prestigious awards: an Emmy, Grammy, Oscar and Tony.