Broadway star Javier Muñoz engages with students in virtual talkback

By Aaliyah Patel

Broadway star Javier Muñoz held a virtual talkback with students on March 4, at 7 p.m. where he shared his performing experiences and offered advice to aspiring artists.

Muñoz is popularly recognized for his starring roles, such as playing the male lead, Usnavi de la Vega, in the 2008 Lin-Manuel Miranda Broadway musical, “In the Heights.” From 2016 to 2018, Muñoz took over the role of Alexander Hamilton which was originated by Miranda in the Broadway musical, “Hamilton.”

Currently, Muñoz has joined the cast of the Disney Junior production “Eureka,” a new animated series where he will play the role of Ohm, Eureka’s teacher.

During the live session, Muñoz spoke about his childhood and said he was born and raised in the Linden Projects of east Brooklyn, New York — an area in which he recalls required his family to guard their windows with bars.

Being the youngest of three boys, he did not want to let the stereotype of where he grew up define his future, so he enrolled into the New York University where he earned a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree. Through this university, he joined the Collaborative Arts Project 21, which enabled his professional development and Broadway journey.

The Student Entertainment Council (SEC) hosted this virtual event and allowed students to participate through the question submission feature before attendance.

Dean Klebonas, a senior popular music performance major and stage chair for the SEC, co-hosted the event, an experience he deemed special.

“This was a magical night. Javier is one of the nicest, most chill professionals I’ve ever had the pleasure of speaking with. He spoke about his experiences on Broadway in ‘In the Heights’ and ‘Hamilton’ as Lin Manuel Miranda’s alternate/replacement in both and as Lin’s right-hand man in life. He had amazing stories and incredible advice for young professionals,” Klebonas shared.

Muñoz offered his audience a wide range of entertainment, sharing songs from the musicals he has worked for. One of those songs included the one he auditioned to for his role in “In the Heights.” He even extended advice to those who hope to pursue a career in the arts.

“One thing that stuck with me is to rise above Broadway fatigue, you have to acknowledge that every performance is an occasion for someone. Every show is someone in the audience’s birthday, anniversary, first Broadway show or something they have been saving up a long time for. It’s your job to create that magic for everyone whether it’s your first show or your 104th show,” said Klebonas.

Nicholas Barbati, the associate dean of campus life, shared how the event provided exposure that will continue to inspire students.

“I thought the Javier Muñoz event was one of the very best events that we’ve hosted this entire year. Mr. Muñoz’s was so engaging and open about his life experiences which made for a truly powerful talkback, and the finale of his performance of ‘Story of Tonight’ was absolutely breathtaking,” Barbati said.

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