The election of 1800 may have been more than two centuries ago, but Daveed Diggs' thoughts on Hamilton in 2020 indicate that the Broadway take is just as historically relevant today. In Disney+'s Hamilton: History Has Its Eyes On You, the original cast member who played Marquis de Lafayette and Thomas Jefferson in the critically acclaimed musical from 2015-2016 explained that while the themes have prevailed, however, that "art is always in conversation with the times in which we're viewing it." That's why, four years after his final curtain call, he sees the show in a whole new light.
"Certainly my attachment to Hamilton during the Obama era was a pretty hopeful one," the Tony-winning actor said in the Robin Roberts-hosted special that premiered on July 10. "The fact that we were all here playing the founding fathers and mothers of this country implied a kind of ownership over our country's history that I had never felt before, personally. So doing that show was the most American I've ever felt in my life. That also makes perfect sense, in there, there is a man who looks like me who is President for the first time in my life. It was very hopeful."
That being said, Diggs admitted that America wasn't "any less dangerous of valuing Black life more" at the time. The actor referenced the police killings of Black men, including Eric Garner in New York City in 2014, George Floyd in Minneapolis in May, and 22-year-old Oscar Grant, whom he noted was murdered two blocks away from his house in Oakland, California's Fruitvale train station in 2009. "What is implied to me now when I watch the show is that if you get this sense of patriotism that I do from watching it, if you are filled up and prideful about America, and we are the bodies that you see performing America, you then have a responsibility to go make that America exist. Because it doesn't. And it didn't then. And it still doesn't."
The 38 year old — who said he was thrown up against a fence by a police officer "for no reason" a week before he originated his Hamilton roles — added that the country was on a trajectory in the Obama era "that has been derailed somewhat" in modern times. He also said he's seen no change over the course of his entire life. Even so, he remains hopeful that the Broadway production's spirit of revolution will prevail. As Diggs concluded in the Disney+ special: "I think, now is a good time to examine the show as an example of how to hold your country accountable, and to start demanding the change you need to see."