A young girl has gone viral for her priceless reaction to seeing a lead actress in the new “Hamilton” film.
In the days following the release of “Hamilton” on Disney Plus, Phillipa Soo, who plays Eliza Schuyler in the film and whose father is of Chinese descent, shared a video of a young girl named Jenna excitedly pointing out Soo in the movie.
“Little Jenna here is exactly why #representationmatters,” Soo tweeted. “I am so grateful for this show, that so many young people can watch this show and say ‘It’s me’. Thank you @britbrit1432 for sharing this video.”
Little Jenna here is exactly why #representationmatters . I am so grateful for this show, that so many young people can watch this show and say “It’s me” . Thank you @britbrit1432 for sharing this video @HamiltonMusical #hamilfilm pic.twitter.com/iDbb4orVIs— Phillipa Soo (@Phillipasoo) July 6, 2020
In the 28-second clip, Jenna insists that Soo’s character is her, despite the fact that another child in the background tells the young girl that it’s not her.
The video, which Soo credits to publicist Britney Thai, has since received over 113,000 likes and more than 15,000 comments.
“This is what it’s all about,” one person tweeted in response. “Representation is important. While we debate historical accuracy and depiction there is a little child that says ‘it’s me’ and we remember: we remember that all this debate and criticism is about inclusion and that this is all our America. It’s me.”
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“I’ve been a Broadway lover all my life, and as a fellow half-asian, your performance was probably the first time I’ve ever seen representation onstage, and it made me cry to finally see someone who looks like me up there,” another wrote. “Thank you from the bottom of my heart.”
The video also caught the attention of “Hamilton” creator Lin-Manuel Miranda, who simply tweeted, “It’s me.”
According to Thai, Jenna suffered from heart and lung failure when she was a year-and-a-half old. She was treated at an intensive care unit and received extracorporeal membrane oxygenation treatment at Children's Hospital Los Angeles.
Though "Hamilton" has been criticized recently for ignoring the Founding Fathers’ complicated history with slavery, the Tony award-winning musical has also received praise for its music and diverse cast. The live recording of the show was released on Disney’s streaming platform on July 3.
The film’s release comes at the heels of a 2019 report from the Asian American Performers Action Coalition, which found that nearly 87 percent of the Broadway shows produced during the 2016-2017 season were written by white playwrights. The study also noted that the roles filled by minority actors dropped to 33 percent from a high of 35 percent in 2015 — the same year “Hamilton” debuted on Broadway.
If you enjoyed this story, you might want read about why being Asian American during this time has been a blessing in disguise. Jenna's family is also soliciting letters from readers who are interested in sharing their experience about why representation matters. You can send your letter to Jenna Thai, PO Box 235, Rosemead, CA 91770. You can also email email@example.com.
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