In the Heights star Anthony Ramos was told to be 'ethnically ambiguous' early in career
With the imminent release of In the Heights (and reviews for the film already glowing), Anthony Ramos is on his way to A-list stardom. But getting there hasn't been easy for the Hamilton alum, who revealed in an interview with The Hollywood Reporter that his Latino background was something he was told to hide when trying to book acting jobs.
"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,'" Ramos revealed. "I thought that s--t was a box, as opposed to being a superpower and just who I am."
Although Ramos says he believed "that box sh--t" for awhile, the actor soon realized there was no reason to hide who he was. "I don't want to be hired for being ambiguous. I want to be hired for who the f---k I am."
Ramos got his acting education at the American Music and Dramatic Academy with help from his high school drama teacher Sara Steinwiess. He recalls that when he started classes, he realized that even though he loved performing, he hadn't had the same musical theater background his classmates did.
"They knew Rodgers and Hammerstein, Stephen Sondheim, Andrew Lloyd Webber. I didn't know sh--t about theater," said Ramos, who added that he knew all the male parts to In the Heights before his audition because "it was the only show I felt like I could have a part in." He also shared that it was In the Heights, with its fully Latino cast, that encouraged him not to give up on his acting dreams when he saw the show on Broadway in 2011.
Embracing his heritage ended up giving him the career success he always dreamed of. He originated the dual role of John Laurens/Philip Schuyler in Lin-Manuel Miranda's smash hit Hamilton, and he earned the lead role of Usvani in In the Heights, the film adaptation of the 2008 Tony-winning Broadway musical directed by Jon M. Chu (Crazy Rich Asians.) Both properties celebrate Latino culture. Ramos can also currently be seen on In Treatment.
"Until the day I die, I'm going to be proud of where I'm from," Ramos said, referencing the filming experience of Heights. "That was the s--t. Some of the days were hard, but every day was more than worth it."