Before she was the indomitable Angelica Schuyler in Hamilton, Mandy Gonzalez played gutsy Nina Rosario in In The Heights and Elphaba in Wicked. But what all the Broadway superstar's most famous roles have in common is the "insider-outsider" dynamic, Alicia Menendez observes of the musical theater veteran in the fifth episode of Latina to Latina.
It's no surprise that Gonzalez has thrived in these roles. Born to a Mexican-American father and a Jewish mother, "Everybody wants to put you in a box," Gonzalez says. "The beautiful thing about being mixed is that you have to learn from a very young age how to stand up for yourself."
Some lessons you have to learn over and over again. That was the case for Gonzalez, whose career started with a painful review in New York Magazine. "It said, 'Mandy Gonzalez lacks in acting, singing, and looks.' And it devastated me. You know, I was 23, and it devastated me in a way that I didn't realize that I needed to be devastated," Gonzalez says.
It wasn't just that her talent was being questioned. She felt painfully exposed, Gonzalez remembers. "He said something that I kind of always felt about myself. Being somebody who comes from two different cultures and never really feeling like you fit in."
Gonzalez and Menendez talk about her solo album, being fearless, and why Lin-Manuel Miranda is like a brother to her.
Latina to Latina is a new Bustle podcast where Alicia Menendez talks to remarkable Latinas about making it, faking it, and everything in between. Starting April 10, every Tuesday there will be a new episode of Latina to Latina that will center on the challenges of existing, and then thriving, as women of color.
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You can read the full transcript of the episode here.