While the marquee lights dimmed and stage doors closed, the pandemic break offered Broadway stars time to revisit their characters in a whole new way. For Krystal Joy Brown, who joined the cast of Hamilton in December 2019, the time off allowed her ‘dig deeper’ and find a ‘new connection’ with Eliza Schuyler Hamilton, that she hadn’t had the time to do prior to the show. Referenced in her number “Burn,” Eliza set fire to the letters she wrote he husband Alexander Hamilton, but went on to keep his and share them for publishing — which Krystal took the time to read ahead of returning to the character.
“I was reading those letters from him to her, and romantic is not even the word to describe them… They’re so personal and I can only imagine the correspondence back, which gave me more to play with,” Krystal told HollywoodLife in an EXCLUSIVE interview. “I wanted to lean into the love story! I think we’re due for a bit of a love story, but also the power of love and what love can do.
Krystal also noted that she spoke further with Alexander Hamilton biographer Ron Chernow about Eliza’s philanthropic contributions throughout history, which helped inspire her return to the role, as well. “She was really involved in charity work, really involved in her community. She dedicated the last 50 years of her life to service to children to trying to make the world a better place. She was an abolitionist, she was so many things,” the actress explained. “The more that I got to invest and really focus for the first time in almost two years do my own community building, I really, truly gained even more respect and more of a connection to her. She has always propelled me to want to do more.”
During the pandemic, Krystal and her fellow cast mates banded together to ensure Hamilton continued to make a difference in the world, despite not being able to perform. “I helped co-create Ham4Progress which is the social justice arm of Hamilton, which was a really instrumental thing for my mental health because it was a way to use this massive brand and still be impactful,” she said. “We found amazing ways to connect to communities and to connect to each other.”
She continued, “With all of our conversations about social justice, inequities, and just being a human being, we asked ‘How can we do this industry better? How can we treat actors, artists, the crew better? How can we bring more women, women of color into the fold? How can Hamilton can be a leader? And so one of the things we we created from Ham4Progress, was that we hired a HR person and are the first Broadway company to have a HR.”
Most recently, Ham4Progress and Lin-Manuel Miranda, in partnership with Prizeo, part of the Charitybuzz Impact Marketplace, announced the launch of Ham4Choice to raise much-needed funds for organizations providing abortion access and reproductive health services. Created in response to the overturning of Roe v. Wade, Ham4Choice partnered with beneficiary organizations including Abortion Support Network, ARC Southeast, Ciocia Basia, Deeds Not Words, Planned Parenthood, Profamilias Puerto Rico, The Brigid Alliance, The National Network of Abortion Fund, and The Tuscan Abortion Support Collective. By donating as little as $10 between August 9 and September 22, participants will be automatically entered for a chance to win a once-in-a-lifetime Hamilton experience in three great cities around the world, including show tickets, flights, and hotels in New York, London, and Hamburg, Germany.
In addition to her work with Hamilton, Krystal also worked on season 2 of Power Book III: Raising Kanan, starring in a pivotal role in the STARZ series. “I’m so grateful that I can do this level of range,” the actress said of taking on the TV role. “There was a time when Broadway actors couldn’t crossover, but now I’m voicing cartoons, I’m doing films and it’s just so great to be able to tell stories in different ways.” Catch Power Book III: Raising Kanan on STARZ on Sundays at 9 PM ET!