PHILADELPHIA (WPVI) -- More than 100 very lucky students in the city's Germantown section got a special visit Thursday when West Philadelphia native Quiara Alegria Hudes came home to inspire the young minds at Germantown Friends School.
Hudes is best known for writing the wildly popular "In The Heights," both the original stage show that went from Off-Broadway to Broadway and the screenplay for the film adaptation that soared at the box office this summer.
Hudes fondly recalls her childhood in West Philadelphia and the stories from her Puerto Rican relatives that shaped her as a dreamer and a storyteller.
"I don't know about all Puerto Rican families, but certainly for mine and the others I've spent time with, storytelling is a real art," she said. "It's our entertainment. It is our history books. We live through the stories around the rice and beans and at the dominoes table."
Hudes was the school's keynote speaker for GFS' Diversity Dialogue Day.
She shared her journey with Lin Manuel Miranda creating "In The Heights," a piece that celebrates family and community and sparks key conversations about gentrification and immigration.
"Both of us came from a time where, when you saw Latinos in the nightly news, it wasn't always a pretty picture they painted," said Hudes. "That really did not reflect the reality of who we were and our families and the things we loved about our lives. We were like 'Let's create this love letter to our culture.'"
Hudes says she hopes that even one student in that crowd today was inspired and empowered to unlock the freedom and permission to be who they are.