Well said! In the time of Trump, Broadway star Phillipa Soo spoke out at the 2018 GenNext Awards saying there’s nothing more ‘American’ than using your voice to ‘fearlessly defend’ what you believe in.
“The phrase ‘Rise Up’ comes to mind,” Phillipa Soo, 28, said at the Hollywood Life, She Runs It and Forbes’ 2018 GenNext Awards on Sept. 13. The Hamilton actress was one of the young women under 35 being recognized for their accomplishments at the GenNext event in New York City. While at the awards, Phillipa applauded the many women raising their voices in the current political climate. “In the past two years, we’ve all been really aware of asking ourselves what we stand for and if given the opportunity to defend it fearlessly, will we do that?”
“We live in a complicated country with a lot of problems, but it’s a great country and we love it,” she told HollywoodLife.com in an exclusive interview. “And we can have a sense of pride in defending what we truly believe. Defending what you believe is an American thing. To peacefully protest and use your voice to really say what you believe in…there’s nothing more beautiful than that.” While the Moana actress didn’t specifically name Donald Trump, and his administration’s policies that seem to target women and people of color, she didn’t need to. Her current concern for protecting the Constitutional right to free speech and public assembly came through, loud and clear.
Soo, who first earned fame originating the role of Alexander Hamilton’s wife, Elizabeth Schuyler Hamilton, in Lin-Manuel Miranda’s Hamilton, went on to play the title character in the Broadway adaptation of Amélie. She also provided additional voices for the Disney animated musical Moana, and will be seen starring in CBS’s upcoming drama, The Code, starting in 2019.
Phillipa said she was thrilled to meet the other GenNext honorees in the entertainment, media and marketing fields. “I just feel like sometimes you need to get in a room with a bunch of people to jumpstart you into your next big idea, your next goal,” she said. “In New York, we put blinders on. We’re so focused on where we’re going and what we’re doing that day. This is a chance to network, a chance to celebrate women in leadership positions, celebrate women trying to be in leadership positions. It’s awesome.”
She also wants to see more women in leadership positions in all these fields and more. “Its been proven and studied that more women in leadership positions, those companies, those places, those boards, they have a really healthy balance and there’s a lot less going on that might be questionable,” she added. “We want to see an environment where people think they can be productive and safe and feel like they can be heard. To bring in women, to bring in people of color, to bring in diversity, we really want to see it start from the top. That’s where you see the most change happening.”
Change also propelled Phillipa to new heights of success. She said she wasn’t “a musical person” when she graduated from school. Then, a little musical called Hamilton happened. “And we were all like, ‘Thank you (Lin-Manuel) for writing this. Thank you for giving me something to work on that was a voice that I could actually feel like I fit into.’ ” Phillipa said later in the night, as part of the GenNext panel, moderated by HollywoodLife Editor-in-Chief Bonnie Fuller. “So being a part of (Hamilton), has been an amazing experience. I feel like I’ve gotten to meet a lot of people. I’ve gotten to really hear a lot of different perspectives, because I think watching it really changed people. But I think at the end of the day, it was very reaffirming about why I want to be an artist and why I do it, which is because it connects people.”
“It helps people see humanity. And now, especially with our President as our leader, it makes me really question what does it mean to be a leader? And why do I do this? And how can I inspire other people to be good leaders through my own leadership?”
“And I think sometimes in this industry,” she added, “it’s hard because you want to, you have to get those opportunities from people that give them to you. But I think what I really learned after Hamilton, post-Hamilton, is that I have an objective to make those things happen for myself. And whether that’s coming to an amazing event like this and hearing other people’s stories, or just opening my eyes to a different way of thinking. There’s a lot of noise in this world, I think it’s important to sort of hone in on what you really want to do with it.
If anyone needs proof of how having women and people of color in leadership roles leads to success, they only need to look at the list of the 2018 GenNext honorees. Phillipa was part of the class that included: Full Frontal’s Ashley Nicole Black; Godless actress Kayli Carter; StoryFuel founder Melanie Deziel; FreshDirect Senior Marketing Manager Lindsay Farrell; HBO’s Director of Digital & Social Media Emily Giannusa; Symantec Product Marketing Manager Nancy Hoque; Disney’s Senior Account Executive Tracy Keller; Creative Director at The&Partnership Natasha Maasri; actress and writer Mandi Masden; New York City Ballet principal dancer Tiler Peck; and mcgarrybowen’s Managing Director Lindsey Schmidt. Amazing!