HBO’s new documentary Siempre, Luis is about a very famous Miranda. No, not Lin-Manuel. His father: Luis Miranda Jr.
As John James’ film makes clear, the story of Lin-Manuel’s father is compelling all on its own. Tracing Luis’ journey from Puerto Rico to New York City in the 1970s and chronicling how he became a key player in New York City politics over the following decades. Siempre, Luis anchors us in a transformative year for the founding president of the Hispanic Federation, who’s made a career out of advocating for the power of Latinxs in the political arena.
It is 2017 and Luis is trying to not let a recent health scare affect his life too much. He still has campaigns to work on, a young son to raise, meetings to attend, and many other things he needs to be doing on any given day. And that’s before he takes it upon himself to organize aid for Puerto Rico following Hurricane Maria. Oh, and to join forces with Lin-Manuel to bring Hamilton to the island, as a way to lift morale and raise funds for communities who desperately need it.
In the film, you see him work tirelessly. “You've been going non-stop for so long, Luis,” Hillary Clinton tells him at one point in the film, worried, as everyone else who knows him, about his ability to keep going. But, as we’re told time and time again, Luis is relentless, and nothing, not even a heart attack, can stop him. His commitment to helping communities in need and to speak up for underrepresented populations is unwavering, even as it sometimes brings him face to face with his detractors, as seen in one key moment in Siempre, Luis during a Hamilton press conference.
It’s no surprise to hear the recent months in lockdown have done nothing to change his habits. As Luis tells ET, he’s been working harder than ever. “In fact, I have been more productive because I don't need to get on a plane now, and watch, say, The Greatest Showman, and sort of not work for two hours. Now, I can work nonstop from my home.”
That comes with its own challenges, though. “Now my wife of 42 years gets to see front and center how I work all the time,” Luis says. “So, she harasses me now at the end of the night, ‘It's time to go to bed. I saw you pacing back and forth. You haven’t taken a break’ and blah blah blah. So that is the only deterrent. She worries more because she’s there with me all the time now.”
For someone as politically engaged as he is, these past few years have not been easy. “I'm telling you, the last three years of Trump in the White House have been very depressing because he has eroded so much progress that we made as a country,” he says. “This is someone who's not even willing to condemn white supremacists.”
Ever the optimist, though, he’s found plenty of inspiration from the last few months of protests and marches.
“What has given me hope is the Black Lives Matter movement because there is an entire new generation that is really committed to change,” Luis shares. “When I see them in the streets, when I see them in the corporate rooms, when I see them making real change, my heart warms up. It makes me realize that the struggle continues. That there is a new generation out there ready to make even more radical changes than what my generation was able to do.”
Siempre, Luis premieres Oct. 6 on HBO and HBO Max.