Bronx high school students recently had the chance to chat with a Broadway actor who is known for his roles in such legendary shows as “Hamilton” and “In The Heights.”
MSG Networks and the Garden of Dreams Foundation recently collaborated around the launch of the “MSG Networks Summer Speaker Series,” which was created to bring joy and inspire students while giving them advice and guidance on how to pursue a career. The Garden of Dreams Foundation provides youths with life-changing access to educational and skills opportunities, mentoring programs and memorable experiences.
As part of the weekly speaker series, about 30 high school students, some from Fannie Lou High School and Hope Leadership, attended a Zoom session, hosted by former Knicks star Allan Houston alongside celebrity guest, Christopher Jackson.
During the chat, Jackson opened up about his journey to becoming an actor, the importance of collaboration and being able to express yourself. The students were blown away by the experience and expressed gratitude for being able to virtually connect with him.
Jackson spoke about the time that Lin Manuel Miranda revealed his plans for “Hamilton” while the two worked together on “In The Heights” in 2009. The pair was on stage at the Richard Rogers Theater and started chatting.
“There was a point in the show where his character and my character would go upstage while another scene had come downstage and actors were doing another number. It was a three and half-minute song – and Lin is one of my best friends so we talk. We aren’t in character, but we are there. We get right to the end of that song and he’s like, ‘Oh by the way I’ve got my next thing.’ I was like ‘great’, in my mind I was like ‘who am I going to play, because I’m an actor’. We had to go back on stage in that moment and he didn’t get to finish telling me anything about what he was thinking. That was in 2009. That goes to show you that really good things take a long time, really good ideas can take years to cultivate.”
Six years after that conversation, Jackson originated the role of George Washington in “Hamilton,” which opened up on Broadway in 2015 and has since become an award-winning piece of musical theater.
Students on the Zoom call got the opportunity to engage with Jackson, and one told him that his work in the theater inspired him as an actor.
“Let me just say I’m humbled to be talking to you today. I’m such a huge fan of Hamilton and In The Heights and you’ve inspired me so much as an actor,” said the student.
“That’s the greatest compliment that I’ve ever gotten. It’s the nicest thing anybody could ever say. God bless you, brother. Thank you,” Jackson responded.
Watch a five minute clip from the Zoom chat below: