Interview with Hamilton star Renée Elise Goldsberry
Last year Renée Elise Goldsberry picked up a Drama Desk Award for her role as Angelica Schuyler in the off-Broadway Public Theater engagement of Lin-Manuel Miranda's smash hit musical Hamilton. She recently earned a Tony nomination for the same role on Broadway.
Renée has previously appeared on the Great White Way in Good People and has played the roles of Mimi Marquez in Rent, Nala in Disney's The Lion King, and Nettie in the Broadway premiere of The Color Purple. Other Public Theater credits include Love's Labor's Lost, As You Like It and Two Gentlemen of Verona.
We caught up with Renée to talk all things Hamilton, as well as her nomination as Best Featured Actress in a Musical...
Thomas Hayden Millward: Congratulations on all your nominations so far, Renée. How does it feel now that Awards Season is finally here for you?
Renée Elise Goldsberry: It feels cathartic, honestly. We have waited a really long time for this season’s awards. We could have gone last year, but it was a really wise choice to wait and let this show marinate to make it what it is now. I know they don’t regret that decision at all. The Tonys has always been the big push for us. We have had a lot of really special acknowledgements that don’t come as often as they should to other theatre productions, but even with the Grammy and all those other things, the Tonys have always been the way to go because we are all theatre nerds. It’s a dream come true for us all to be a part of this celebration of theatre. Most of us have never even been to the Tonys in our lives, much less be nominated for an award. So I’m really excited and thrilled.
THM: And what are your thoughts on your category – Best Featured Actress in a Musical – at the Tonys this year?
REG: Oh my God! Well, I have to tell you that I love the “Featured Actress” category. I find myself most often as a featured actress and I’m really proud of that. It’s a challenging one because the story isn’t necessarily yours, so you have to find your own impact in the story and support somebody else. I think that’s a beautiful thing for an actor to do. I’m surrounded by a lot of really, really, really talented women that are doing very different things. I feel most often in any Awards show it’s not about what’s best, but what you’re celebrating this year. I’m not exactly sure what the Tony committee will celebrate this year. In every category, it’s different and everything is really deserving and worthy of acknowledgement. So it’ll be exciting just to be in the room and celebrate so many different pieces of theatre and so many different people’s work.
THM: My colleagues at the London Theatre Guide would like to know if you could see yourself making a trip over the pond to appear in Cameron Mackintosh’s West End transfer of ‘Hamilton’? Or are you sticking around in New York?
REG: I would love to go to London. I’ve been several times, but I’ve never worked there. My favourite thing to do there is, of course, to see theatre. So the idea of being there and being in the theatre would be a dream come true. I’ve also had the privilege to talk to some very fancy Brits like Kate Beckinsale, who have been able to share with me what’s so special about ‘Hamilton’ being in London is that they are not taught this history at all. So, as intelligent as we know the Brits are, they are actually in this particular instance relatively ignorant and so the experience of being able to do this show for them will be really interesting. I know that the people who do end up doing it over there are going to have a real fun time with the British audiences.
THM: Personally, I’m one of those ignorant people who doesn’t care much for 18th century political history and I found the musical educational and enlightening in this respect, however, it was really the human elements of the story that made the production a smash hit in my eyes.
REG: What’s so crazy about history, that perhaps we don’t acknowledge because of the way it’s often taught, is that it’s all life stories. If anyone makes the history books, their life story has to be in some way interesting and compelling, it’s just a question of how the story is told and who tells it. That’s the beauty of it being in the hands of Lin-Manuel Miranda and being told by these different types of music. It’s really an opera, but an opera of our time and long may it continue.