Hamilton star and Bushwick raised Anthony Ramos, stars in “Monsters and Men,” a new film about police brutality set in Bed-Stuy that debuted at Sundance this January.
Directed by Reinaldo Marcus Green, the movie will be in wide release on September 28th. The cast also includes Ramos’s girlfriend, Jasmine Cephas Jones, who is also in Hamilton as his character’s girlfriend.
The film’s perspective shifts between three characters – a black cop played by John David Washington, who is pulled over on undercover duty, a teenage baseball player turned activist played by Kelvin Harrison and Ramos’ character Manny, a family man who is eyewitness to a police killing and captures the incident on video.
Watch the trailer below:
Ramos joined Hamilton in late 2014 at the Public Theater and followed the show to Broadway, originating the role of John Laurens/Philip Hamilton. He played baseball in high school and told Theater Mania, “I started to lose my love for baseball. I knew I needed something else, so I auditioned for something called Sing, which I thought was a talent show…As it turns out, I auditioned for a musical by accident and they gave me the lead. I wasn’t sure I could do it, because it was a big time commitment. But I did the musical and I loved it and decided to do more.”
He wanted to pursue theater professionally and received critical support and guidance:
“I had two teachers who really pushed me in that direction. One was our director at New Utrecht High School [In Bensonhurst, Brooklyn], Sara Steinweiss, and the other was Wendy Halm-Violette. They saw things in me that no one else did. My senior year Ms. Steinweiss gave me a pamphlet for AMDA [the American Musical and Dramatic Academy]. It was the one school I auditioned for. I didn’t have money for the application so she paid for it. I went to the audition out of respect for her and I got accepted. Then they started throwing numbers at me and I realized that I could never afford this school. So Ms. Steinweiss set up a meeting with the Jerry Seinfeld Scholarship. I told them that all I needed was one shot and they gave it to me. They paid my full tuition. It’s funny now to think that “Not Throwing Away My Shot” was the song they had me audition for Hamilton with. All these things come back full circle.”
At first Ramos struggled to fit in, unfamiliar with musical theater history and had been dropped by an agent shortly before booking Hamilton. He stayed motivated, he told Teen Vogue because, “So many people put their name on the line for me and they totally didn’t have to do that. I couldn’t let them down and I couldn’t let myself down.” Now the Grammy Winner, who has performed for the Obamas at the White House, is in a new phase of his career.
Ramos spoke to the Brooklyn Eagle about what he learned growing up in Brooklyn, “I grew up in the projects in Bushwick but went to high school in Bensonhurst, and they were two completely different kinds of neighborhoods. I lived in a regular residential apartment building in Bensonhurst for three years with my aunt, and I really got to see the different spectrums as far as culture and languages and all those things.”
Cover photo courtesy of Monsters and Men movie trailer