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Lin-Manuel Miranda wrote 'In The Heights' because Latinx stories were 'missing' from musical theater

“If I had any advice for the next generation of creators, I think the only thing I can say is give us more to see and create what you think is missing,” said Lin-Manuel Miranda.
Image: Today - Season 68
Lin-Manuel Miranda appears on NBC's "TODAY" show on Nov. 19, 2019.Nathan Congleton / NBC

The Hollywood Foreign Press Association’s annual Grants Banquet is usually a schmoozy cocktail party and dinner stop on the awards campaign trail — where a starry lineup of contenders press the flesh with Golden Globe voters in between presenting grants to non-profit organizations.

However, this year’s event had to make a virtual pivot. The 2020 Grants Banquet streamed tonight on as well as on the HFPA’s YouTube channel.

Hosted by James Corden, the stream was dedicated to empowering young creatives with bold-faced names like Regina King, Nicole Kidman, George Clooney, Akwafina and John David Washingtonhelping dole out $5.1 million to more than 70 organizations. The Urban Peace Institute received the inaugural Social Justice Grant for $300,000, presented by Tracee Ellis Ross.

Many of the stars offered advice and encouragement to Hollywood hopefuls.

“If I had any advice for the next generation of creators, I think the only thing I can say is give us more to see and create what you think is missing,” said Lin-Manuel Miranda. “I started writing ‘In the Heights’ because I didn’t see a way forward for myself as a Latino who wanted to be in musical theater. I didn’t see our stories being told so I wrote what was missing. What do you see as missing across the landscape of the art you’re enjoying and create that for us. Create the worlds we haven’t seen yet.”

Awkwafina said, “There are 7.6 billion people that live in this unique world of hours. While we each may look a little different and cook with different spices, dance to our own rhythms or use an assortment of words to say what we mean, the agenda is all the same — we flourish when celebrating who we are and where we come from.”

The evening also included actors recalling some of their creative childhood endeavors. Ethan Hawkesaid he wrote a stage show called “Arthur,” a sequel to “Annie” about a redheaded boy orphan. Riz Ahmed remembered “smashing up my mom’s furniture” while reenacting scenes from Bruce Lee’s “Into the Dragon.” King and her sister would perform for family and friends by reciting Shel Silverstein poems. “We would have props and we would have wardrobe,” the Oscar winner said.

Jennifer Hudson performed, as did the cast of NBC’s “Zoey’s Extraordinary Playlist.”

“As we celebrate our grantees and especially the young people that are the future of our industry, we keep in our thoughts those who we’ve lost and those who suffered loss in this difficult year,” said Meher Tatna, chair of the HFPA’s board of directors. “The faces and creations we see showcased here remind us that movies and the arts will not only continue to help us survive, but will also offer comfort, hope and inspiration to a world that is striving to become more just, peaceful and inclusive.”

In the past, the banquet would usually include political cracks like last year when Arnold Schwarzenegger ridiculed Pres. Donald Trump. However, there was no talk of the election tonight. Even host Corden steered clear of the race for the White House.

“Normally these kind of Hollywood events would involve an ice cold martini and hobnobbing with all the big players in the industry,” the late night talk show host said. “This time you get to enjoy a delicious can of LaCroix while you change your cat’s litter box.”

The stream ended with a photo of late HFPA president Lorenzo Soria along with the words, “In Loving Memory.” Soria unexpectedly passed away in August while half-way through his three-year term.

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