I had a chance to chat with the star-studded cast as they make Lin-Manuel Miranda's dream sing, dance, and burst with Latino pride and culture.
"It just gave me this hope like these people look like me they sound like me, they feel familiar," said Anthony Ramos.
He plays Usnavi, a bodega owner in Washington Heights who dreams of returning to his native Dominican Republic.
Lin Manuel Miranda originated the role on stage, but for the film, he cast Ramos, saying this part fits him like a well-tailored tux.
"It's an honor," Ramos said. "He wrote the role for himself. For him to say, that means a lot."
But don't worry, Miranda gave himself a small part.
"It's a love letter to the neighborhood," Miranda said. "It's such a reminder of what community can be."
Miranda also brought back broadway cast member Olga Merediz, who originated the role of Abuela Claudia.
"From the workshops, the readings off-Broadway, on Broadway and now the cinema, it's a dream come true," Merediz said. "It's a miracle almost."
Newcomers include Melissa Barrera, who plays Usnavi's love interest, Vanessa.
"For all of us, it was a dream come true to be a part of this. It meant so much," Barrera said. "We knew the responsibility that we had in our hands."
There were firsts for many in the cast.
Singer Leslie Grace is making her acting debut.
"I gained a whole new family and extended family," Grace said. "It changed my life."
Actor Jimmy Smits got to check something off his bucket list - singing.
"I got to blow a couple of notes," he said.
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