Michaela Jaé (Mj) Rodriguez Signs with United Talent Agency (UTA)

Michaela Jaé (Mj) Rodriguez has new representation…

The 30-year-old half-Afro-Puerto Rican actress has signed with United Talent Agency (UTA).

MJ Rodriguez

Rodriguez, who was with Gersh, recently made history as the first transgender actress to be nominated for an Emmy in any lead acting category for her role as house mother Blanca in the FX drama from Steven Canals and Ryan Murphy.

UTA will represent Rodriguez in all areas as she continues to grow her career in film, television, theater and music, among other mediums.

With Pose having wrapped its run earlier this year after three seasons, Rodriguez will next star opposite Maya Rudolph in Apple‘s comedy series Loot.

Her previous television credits include roles in Showtime‘s Nurse Jackie and Marvel‘s Netflix drama Luke Cage.

On the big screen, Rodriguez will next star in Lin-Manuel Miranda‘s feature adaptation of Jonathan Larson‘s Tick, Tick … Boom! She previously earned praise for her role in Saturday Church, which debuted at the Tribeca Film Festival.

UTA will also help support Rodriguez as she expands her burgeoning music career. Rodriguez recently released a music video to accompany her debut single, “Something to Say,” the equality anthem she wrote with Verdine White of Earth, Wind and Fire, Neal Pogue and John Paris.

On stage, Rodriguez made her off-Broadway debut in the New World Stages production of Larson’s beloved Rent, playing the role of Angel. Her stage credits include the Encores! production of Runaways and portraying the lead role of Audrey in the Pasadena Playhouse’s production of Little Shop of Horrors.

Rita Moreno to Star in the Feature Film “The Prank”

Rita Moreno is pranking around…

The 89-year-old Puerto Rican actress, singer and dancer, an EGOT (Emmy, Grammy, Oscar & Tony Award winner) has landed a starring role in the feature film The Prank, which will be directed by Maureen Bharoocha.

Rita Moreno

Moreno will star opposite Connor Kalopsis and Ramona Young.

The Prank follows two high school students who play a prank on their physics teacher, Mrs. Wheeler, played by Moreno. When she fails them on a test; they teach the imperious, demanding, insulting instructor a lesson by falsely accusing her of the murder of a missing student.

Other cast in The Prank includes Keith David, Meredith Salenger, Jonathan Kimmel, Nathan Janak and Kate Flannery.

Filming begins this month in and around Los Angeles.

The dark comedy is written by Rebecca Flinn-White & Zak White.

“Rita Moreno is a force of nature and an icon who continues to redefine herself,” said Bharoocha. “Her brilliant comedic mind lends itself to the perfect ‘Mrs. Wheeler’, a character we have never seen her play, and one that will no doubt surprise audiences.”

Moreno has won an Oscar (West Side Story), a Tony (The Ritz), two Emmys (for her turns respectively in 1977 and 1978 on The Muppet Show and Rockford Files), and a Grammy (Best Children’s Album for The Electric Company).

Moreno has starred on Broadway and London’s West End, appeared in more than 40 feature films and has performed in numerous regional theaters, including her one-woman show, Life Without Makeup, at the Berkeley Repertory Theatre. She recently co-starred in the critically acclaimed Latinx reimagining of Norman Lear’s classic sitcom One Day At A Time.

Her documentary, Rita Moreno: Just a Girl Who Decided to Go For It, produced by Lear, Lin Manuel Miranda and Brent Miller had its world debut at the Sundance Film Festival this year. The film, which was met with acclaim from critics and audiences alike, will have its television debut on PBS’ American Masters nationwide on October 5.

Moreno also co-stars and is an executive producer of the Steven Spielberg remake of West Side Story, set to open on December 10.

The recipient of the Peabody Career Achievement Award and the Kennedy Center Honor for her lifetime contributions to American culture, she was also honored by her peers as the 50th recipient of the Screen Actors Guild Life Achievement Award.

Moreno’s all-Spanish-language album, Una Vez Más, was produced by her good friend Emilio Estefan, and she is a New York Times bestselling author with her first book, Rita Moreno: A Memoir. Moreno has received the Presidential Medal of Freedom from President George W. Bush and the National Medal of Arts from President Barack Obama.

Walt Disney Releases First Trailer for “Encanto,” with Stephanie Beatriz Leading the Voice Cast

Stephanie Beatriz is enchanted with her latest project…

Walt Disney Animation Studios has released the first trailer, poster and images from its forthcoming film Encanto, featuring the 40-year-old Colombian- and Bolivian-Argentine actress as part of the voice cast.

Stephanie Beatriz

The film will be out in theaters November 24, 2021. It features new music from Hamilton creator Lin-Manuel Miranda.

Encanto is the story of an extraordinary family, the Madrigals, who live hidden in the mountains of Colombia in a magical house, in a vibrant town, in a wondrous, charmed place called an Encanto.

The film features the voice of Beatriz as Mirabel, an ordinary 15-year-old who’s struggling to find her place in her family.

“Mirabel is a really funny, loving character who also deeply yearns for something more,” says Beatriz. “She’s also not afraid to stand up for what she knows is right—something I love and relate to very much.

“I’m Colombian on my father’s side, and playing this role fills me with immense pride,” Beatriz adds. “As a Disney kid, I’d burn through my VHS tapes and adored every single magical story that the world of Disney introduced me to. I learned in those that stories that anything is possible, especially if you believe in magic and the goodness rooted deep inside us all.”

In the film, the magic of the Encanto has blessed every child in the family with a unique gift, from super strength to the power to heal—every child except one, Mirabel. But when she discovers that the magic surrounding the Encanto is in danger, Mirabel decides that she, the only ordinary Madrigal, might just be her exceptional family’s last hope.

The voice cast also includes María Cecilia Botero, Wilmer Valderrama, Adassa, Diane Guerrero, Mauro Castillo, Angie Cepeda, Jessica Darrow, Rhenzy Feliz and Carolina Gaitan.

The new trailer includes an original song from the film, Colombia, Mi Encanto, performed by 17-time Grammy and Latin Grammy winner Carlos Vives, a native of Santa Marta, Colombia.

 

The film features all-new songs by Miranda and is directed by Byron Howard and Jared Bush, co-directed by Charise Castro Smith and produced by Clark Spencer and Yvett Merino.

Bush and Castro Smith are screenwriters on the film.

Lin-Manuel Miranda Among Artists Offering Civic Lessons in Netflix’s Animated Series “We the People”

Lin-Manuel Miranda is giving a civics lesson…

The 41-year-old Puerto Rican actor, singer, songwriter, rapper, producer and playwright, the mastermind behind the Tony Award-winning musical Hamilton, lends his voice to the new animated Netflix series We the People.

Lin-Manuel Miranda 

Created by Chris Nee and produced by Barack and Michelle Obama, the 10-part series provides a range of civics lessons through three-minute music videos on topics that include the Bill of Rights, immigration and the courts.

In addition to Miranda, the series also features award-winning artists H.E.R., Brandi CarlisleBebe Rexha and others.

Miranda took on the topic of “The Three Branches of Government” episode, writing and performing the song “Checks and Balances,” alongside Kristen Anderson-Lopez, Daveed Diggs, Brittany Howard and Robert Lopez.

With its light hip-hop bear, the catchy number explains the checks and balances of the United States government.

Meanwhile, Jorge R. Gutierrez directs the immigration-themed episode, which features the track “American Citizen,” performed by Bebe Rexha.

The 46-year-old Mexican animator, painter, writer, voice actor, and production designer helms Rexha’s pop message that lets everyone know from the second they are born, they are an “American Citizen.”

The episode is full of visual treats showing how the country is one built from a nation of immigrants, as animated versions of Sofia Vergara, Steven Chen, Anousheh Ansari and Padma Lakshmi are all featured to illustrate the point.

We the People premiered on Sunday, July 4 on Netflix.

Lin-Manuel Miranda’s “Freestyle Love Supreme” to Receive Special Tony Award

Lin-Manuel Miranda is receiving some extra Love

A special Tony Award will be presented in September to Freestyle Love Supreme, the Broadway show about the hip-hop improv troupe founded by the 41-year-old Puerto Rican actor, singer, songwriter, rapper, producer, and playwright, Thomas Kail and Anthony Veneziale,

Lin-Manuel Miranda

Special Tony Awards are presented to outstanding productions, artists and organizations who do not fall into any of the competitive categories.

In a joint statement, Heather Hitchens, CEO and President of the American Theatre Wing and Charlotte St. Martin, President of The Broadway League, said that the Freestyle Love Supreme “take(s) theatre to the next level, delivering outside-of-the-box presentations that have gone beyond the stage and brought theatre into the homes of millions of people around the world.”

Lin-Manuel Miranda, Freestyle Love Supreme

Freestyle Love Supreme was developed in the basement of The Drama Bookshop in 2004 and slowly worked its way to Broadway’s Booth Theatre in 2019.

Directed by Kail, the acclaimed show features a comedic improvisational musical structure, and a rotating cast.

Freestyle Love Supreme will return to Broadway for a strictly limited engagement at the Booth on Thursday, October 7 through Sunday, January 2, 2022.

The 74th Annual Tony Awards, presented by the Broadway League and the American Theatre Wing, will be a two-hour, streaming-only ceremony on Sunday, September 26, available on ViacomCBSParamount+ platform and followed immediately by a special two-hour CBS broadcast special called The Tony Awards Present: Broadway’s Back!

Lin-Manuel Miranda’s “Freestyle Love Supreme” Returning to Broadway in October

Lin-Manuel Miranda is bringing the (freestyle) Love to Great White Way…

Freestyle Love Supreme, the improvisational rap musical revue co-created by the 41-year-old Puerto Rican actor, singer, songwriter, rapper, producer, and playwright, is returning to Broadway’s Booth Theatre for a strictly limited three-month engagement in October, producers announced today.

Lin-Manuel Miranda

“If live theater is coming back, so is FLS,” said Miranda, who co-created the show with Thomas Kail and Anthony Veneziale. “Our most important collaborator is the audience, and we can’t wait to get back in the Booth.”

The limited engagement begins Thursday, October 7, and runs through Sunday, January 2, 2022.

“We are thrilled to be back on Broadway and part of this theatrical community we love so much,” said Kail, who directs. “The immediacy of our show, with its content driven by audience suggestion, makes it one of the rare shows that can speak to whatever is happening in the moment.”

The production’s core performers will include Andrew Bancroft AKA Jelly Donut, Tarik Davis AKA Tardis Hardaway, Aneesa Folds AKA Young Nees, Arthur Lewis AKA Arthur the Geniuses, Kaila Mullady AKA Kaiser Rözé, Chris Sullivan AKA Shockwave and Anthony Veneziale AKA Two-Touch.

As with the original 2019-2020 Broadway production, the revival will include spontaneous, unannounced special guests which “may include” Miranda, Christopher Jackson, Daveed Diggs, James Monroe Iglehart, Wayne Brady, Ashley Pérez Flanagan, Bill Sherman, Utkarsh Ambudkar and others.

Hamilton creator Miranda has been much in the spotlight lately, with the film adaptation of his In The Heights opening last week, his feature directorial debut tick, tick… Boom! arriving this Fall and his partly-owned The Drama Bookshop bookstore opening earlier this month in Manhattan’s theater district.

Prior to its purchase by Miranda, Kail and producers Jeffrey Seller and James L. Nederlander, the Book Shop, in a nearby location, had long been theater district institution and gathering place but was threatened with closure by rising rents and financial difficulties. Miranda, Kail and Veneziale began writing Freestyle Love Supreme more than 17 years ago in the basement of the old Book Shop, a history chronicled in the 2020 documentary We Are Freestyle Love Supreme.

Freestyle Love Supreme is produced on Broadway by Kail, Miranda, Jenny and Jon Steingart, and Jill Furman.

Anthony Ramos Teams Up with “In The Heights” Co-Stars Leslie Grace & Marc Anthony for New Single “Home All Summer”

Anthony Ramos has found his summer home

The 29-year-old Puerto Rican actor/singer and current In The Heights star has joined voices with his co-stars Leslie Grace and Marc Anthony have joined voices to release the new singleHome All Summer.”

Anthony Ramos

Ramos and Grace’s voices blend beautifully on the upbeat “Home All Summer,” Lin-Manuel Miranda‘s new song for the big screen adaptation of his Broadway hit In the Heights.

Just like the movie it hails from, it’s comforting, effortlessly charming, flawlessly executed and boasts a memorable Marc Anthony cameo. 

Netflix Releases Trailer for Lin-Manuel Miranda’s Feature Directorial Debut “tick, tick…BOOM!”

Lin-Manuel Miranda is tickin’ ahead…

The first trailer has been released for tick, tick…BOOM!, directed by the 41-year-old Puerto Rican actor, singer, songwriter, rapper, director, producer, and playwright.

Lin-Manuel Miranda 

It’s a film adaptation of Jonathan Larson’s autobiographical pre-Rent musical.

Starring Andrew Garfield in the Larson-inspired lead role, Netflix’s tick, tick…BOOM! will hit the streaming service and theaters this fall.

Garfield plays Jon, a young theater composer who’s waiting tables at a New York City diner in 1990 while writing what he hopes will be the next great American musical. As described by Netflix: Days before he’s due to showcase his work in a make-or-break performance, Jon is feeling the pressure from everywhere: from his girlfriend Susan (Alexandra Shipp), who dreams of an artistic life beyond New York City; from his friend Michael (Robin de Jesús), who has moved on from his dream to a life of financial security. Amidst an artistic community being ravaged by the AIDS epidemic, Jon feels the clock ticking and faces the question everyone must reckon with: What are we meant to do with the time we have?

Larson would not live to see the success of his “next great American musical,” dying at age 35 on January 25, 1996, the morning of Rent’s first Off Broadway preview. The cause of death was an aortic aneurysm caused by undiagnosed Marfan’s Syndrome.

The trailer begins with Garfield singing “Boho Days,” a song from the earliest incarnations of tick, tick…BOOM! It was the title song when Larson first performed the musical as a one-man show in 1990.

The film, which also stars Joshua Henry, MJ Rodriguez, Bradley Whitford, Tariq Trotter, Judith Light and Vanessa Hudgens, will mark Miranda’s feature directorial debut.

In 2001, Miranda, then 21, was writing In The Heights when he attended an Off Broadway revival of tick, tick…BOOM! In 2014, Miranda, who would later say that Rent inspired him to begin writing musicals, portrayed Jon in a two-week Encores! production of tick, tick…BOOM!

The film adaptation of Miranda’s In The Heights, directed by Jon M. Chu, hit theaters and HBO Max today.

Justina Machado to Star in Amazon Studios’ Pilot “The Horror of Dolores Roach”

It’s a scary time for Justina Machado

Amazon Studios has given a formal pilot order to The Horror of Dolores Roach, starring the 48-year-0ld Puerto Rican actress.

Justina Machado

Based on the hit Gimlet podcast and written and directed by podcast creator Aaron Mark, The Horror of Dolores Roach originally was developed by Mark as a one-woman play starring Daphne Rubin-Vega.

It’s a grotesque Sweeney Todd-inspired tale of eat or be eaten — a macabre urban legend of love, betrayal, weed, gentrification, cannibalism and survival of the fittest.

“Magic Hands” Dolores Roach (Machado) is released from prison after 16 years and returns to a severely gentrified Washington Heights with $200 and the clothes on her back. With her boyfriend missing, her family long gone and her apartment now occupied by strangers, Dolores finds respite in the dilapidated storefront Empanada Loca around the corner — the only remnant of her former life.

Roxann Dawson is attached to direct and executive produce the pilot, which has been casting for the past four months. The project, in development at Amazon since 2020, hails from Blumhouse Television, which won the rights to adapt the podcast in 2019 in a competitive situation, and Spotify.

Mark penned the pilot script and will executive produce alongside Home Before Dark co-creator Dara Resnik and Rubin-Vega. Jason Blum, Chris McCumber and Jeremy Gold of Blumhouse Television and Chris Giliberti and Justin McGoldrick of Spotify also will executive produce.

Machado most recently starred in the One Day at a Time reimagining, garnering multiple award nominations and winning two Imagen Awards for her role.

She previously shared in a SAG Award for her role in the Emmy-winning HBO series Six Feet Under.

Her other television credits include Jane the Virgin and Queen of the South.

Her work in film includes Blumhouse Productions’ The Purge: Anarchy, Netflix’s All Together Now and the indie Pedro.

On stage, Machado made her Broadway debut in the Tony-winning musical In the Heights, created by and starring Lin-Manuel Miranda.

Melissa Barrera to Star in the Netflix Survival Drama Series “Breathe”

Will Melissa Barrera make it through the wilderness?

The 30-year-old Mexican actress and singer has been cast as the lead in BreatheNetflix’s one-hour drama series from Blindspot creator Martin Gero and writer-executive producer Brendan Gall, and Warner Bros. Television.

Melissa Barrera

Barrera, who rose to acclaim in Starz’s Latinx series Vida, will portray a lone woman who must battle the elements and odds to survive after her plane crashes in the middle of the Canadian wilderness.

Barrera’s Eve is a razor-sharp Manhattan attorney who finds herself profoundly out of her comfort zone when her plane crashes and she must battle for survival.

Gero executive produces via his Quinn’s House production company, along with Gall. Warner Bros. Television is the studio.

Barrera most recently starred as co-lead Lyn in Tanya Saracho’s Vida, which aired for three seasons on Starz.

She next stars in In the Heights, the feature adaptation of Lin-Manuel Miranda’s Tony-winning musical, and also will be seen in a key role in the upcoming Scream 5.

She recently wrapped Sony Pictures Classics’ Carmen, the modern-day reimagining of the classic opera.