The “Hamilton” Actor Who Stood Up to Mike Pence Has Much More to Say (Video)
Vice-president elect Mike Pence is a conservative’s conservative, earning him the skepticism of Americans who champion civil rights for women and other minority groups. As such, his presence at a recent production of Hamilton earned him the attention of the musical’s cast, itself a melting pot of color and gender. In particular, the man who replaced Tony Award-winning Leslie Odom, Jr. as Aaron Burr – Brandon Victor Dixon – took a few moments to address Pence directly, expressing the cast’s concerns that “your new administration will not protect us, our planet, our children, our parents, or defend us,” adding “we truly hope that this show has inspired you to uphold our American values and to work on behalf of all of us.”
It was a bold move in a typically rehearsed environment, and one which forced Pence to absorb the words in a room full of Americans, many of whom are not entirely enthused about his nomination. Dixon visited the set of CBS This Morning today (November 21) to share his motivations in taking such an outspoken stance, which Pence has since said did not offend him. Dixon begins by referring to Hamilton‘s inherent diversity, saying “we are men and women of different colors, creeds and orientations,” adding that its qualitative makeup “demands that we make statements when there are important issues facing us as a community, so we wanted to stand up and spread a message of love and of unity.” He also addresses Trump’s claims that Pence was “harassed” by the Hamilton cast, arguing that “conversation is not harassment,” and that he hopes “it was the beginning of a conversation…we can continue to have.”
In fact, he says the conversation could have continued right there and then, considering that Pence (and, as says, all guests) was more than welcome to come backstage. “He absolutely could have done that, and if he was unaware at the time, I say to him ‘vice-president elect Mike Pence: please come. Have a conversation with us.'” As he explains, he felt it was particularly important to ignite a dialogue with Pence because of “all the emotions that everybody’s feeling after the election,” and that it is vitally important for people to “recognize that we are not alone. We are here together, and we need to listen to one another and speak with one another. And those of us who feel like, maybe our voices have been marginalized or might become marginalized, it’s important that they realize there are allies all over the place.”
President-elect Trump has demanded an apology on behalf of Pence, to which Dixon says the following: “there is nothing to apologize for.” Rather, he argues that the statement made by the cast and the entire Hamilton team was fulfilling a duty of art. “Art is meant to bring people together. It’s meant to raise consciousness,” he says before adding that he was proud to help “spread a message of love, to spread a message of unity.” Lastly, he says “we are not here to boo. We’re here to cheer each other on,” before welcoming Trump to attend a performance.
Heads will be hearing more from Hamilton in the coming weeks, as creator Lin-Manuel Miranda gears up to release the mixtape inspired by the musical, featuring Black Thought, Nas, Joell Ortiz, and many others.