Ramos, 29, explained that he was warned early on that he should do his best to hide his ethnicity and try and fit into a broader category to avoid being typecast by casting director and producers.
"Folks would say to me that if you grow your hair out and speak in American Standard, you can be more ethnically ambiguous; you won’t be in the 'Latino box,'" Ramos recalled, adding that, for a while, he actually took the advice. "I thought that sh*t was a box, as opposed to being a superpower and just who I am."
"I believed that [box] sh*t for a little bit," he continued. "But I don’t want to be hired for being ambiguous. I want to be hired for who the f**k I am."
The actor -- who is of Puerto Rican descent -- grew up in Brooklyn, and he told THR that his biggest ambition was to get out of the city when he was younger.
"I grew up in New York, and my dream was to not live there," Ramos shared. "Figuratively and physically, New York has done a number on my a**."
"I know what it’s like to struggle," he continued, "to walk eight blocks in the cold to your apartment. I know how it feels to be hungry for my dreams and also hungry, like, 'I could use some McDonald’s right now.'"
His career took off in a big way when he landed the dual roles of John Laurens and Philip Hamilton in the Broadway megahit Hamilton. Now, he's starring in In the Heights, which is a musical celebration of the vibrant culture of the close community of Washington Heights in New York City.
"We haven’t had a movie that feels like Black Panther or Crazy Rich Asians," Ramos reflected on the importance of the story. He recalled that during the filming of the hotly anticipated musical, "You could just feel the ancestors, years of people who feel like they have not had this chance, understanding that this moment is our chance."
"That’s what I kept in my heart every single day when I went to set," he added.