Lin-Manuel Miranda Introduces “Hamilton” Cast Performance to Mark First Anniversary of January 6th Attack on U.S. Capitol

Lin-Manuel Miranda is marking the first anniversary of the January 6th attack on the U.S. Capitol through music.

The 41-year-old Puerto Rican Tony Award-winning actor, songwriter, singer, playwright, producer and film director introduced a Hamilton cast performance of Dear Theodosia as part of the congressional events to mark the historic day.

Lin-Manuel Miranda “We should never take our rights and liberties for granted, but we must remain committed to finding a way forward together,” said Miranda, appearing virtually, along with members of the cast.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi cited lyrics from the song: We’ll make it right for you. If we lay a strong enough foundation, we will pass it on to you, and we will give the world to you.

The performance was followed by a discussion with Librarian of Congress Carla Hayden and historians Doris Kearns Goodwin and Jon Meacham, both of whom put the January 6th attack and the current political divisions in context with other moments of American history.

Their words were a bit of a warning. Goodwin said that “in my lifetime, this is the hardest moment for democracy,” while Meacham said that he believes “this is a chapter, not the end of the story. And if it is the end of the story we will have failed as a people that the world will forever condemn.”

But polls show a wide gap in beliefs even over what happened on January 6th, with revisionist takes over its root causes and conspiracy theories over the role of the government. The significance of the day also has been minimized, with one lawmaker comparing the rioters to tourists at the Capitol.

Meacham said that what people have to do is to “use the power of memory as an incentive, not as a bludgeon,” i.e. by presenting the situation as one of being on the right side of history.

“We don’t build statues to people who tear down; we build statues to people who create,” he said.

Goodwin said that she is hopeful that the January 6th Committee will be able to “retell the story” of that date, so that “more people can be persuaded that this cannot happen again.”

Camila Cabello Among Celebrities Calling on Corporate America to Urge Congress to Support President Joe Biden’s Climate Plan

Camila Cabello is urging the U.S. Congress to support President Joe Biden’s climate change plan…

While Democratic leadership tries to unite its progressive and moderate wings, a group of 80-plus artists, celebrities and activists, including the 24-year-old Cuban/Mexican singer, are calling on the leaders of Google, Disney, Amazon, Fox, Facebook to join them in urging Congress to support Biden’s Build Back Better plan.

Camila Cabello

The effort was spearheaded by the National Resources Defense Council Action Fund and Cabello, who convinced the sizable group of A-listers to speak out, specifically about the need to address climate change.

In addition to Cabello, signatories to the group letter included J.J. Abrams, Greg Berlanti, Cate Blanchett, Jack Antonoff, Don Cheadle, Ellen DeGeneres, Selena Gomez, Shakira, Chris Evans, Jimmy Kimmel, Lady Gaga, John Legend, Chuck Lorre, Julia Louis-Dreyfus, Lin-Manuel MirandaSean Penn, Joaquin Phoenix, Billy Porter, Robert Redford, Ryan Reynolds, Shakira, Barbra Streisand, Wes Studi, Justin Timberlake, Kerry Washington and many more.

On Monday, a group of 17 Nobel Prize-winning economists also came out in support of Biden’s plan.

Manish Bapna, President and CEO of the NRDC Action Fund said, “These are the tastemakers of our time—and in moments like these they have an opportunity to be the changemakers, too. What started as an idea by Camila Cabello has exploded into a clarion call from entertainers overnight to take action. Congress holds in its hands our best chance at combating our biggest environmental challenge yet. We need all hands on deck to make sure they seize it, and these industry leaders can play a critical role in making sure that they do.”

In today’s initiative, the artists call out the following execs by name: Lincoln Benet at Access Industries (Warner Music Group), Sundar Pichai at Alphabet (Google, YouTube), Andy Jassy at Amazon, Tim Cook at Apple, John Stankey at AT&T (WarnerMedia), Brian Roberts at Comcast, David Zaslav at Discovery (and soon Warner Bros. Discovery), Mark Zuckerberg at Facebook, Lachlan Murdoch at Fox, Reed Hastings at Netflix, Kenichiro Yoshida at Sony, Robert Bakish at ViacomCBS, Arnaud de Puyfontaine at Vivendi (Universal Music Group) and Bob Chapek at Walt Disney.

“It’s no secret that climate change is here and is already affecting people’s lives across the globe,” wrote Cabello in her post on Instagram about the effort. “We have a once-in-a-generation opportunity to act boldly to fight the climate crisis, so I am honored to join over 60 fellow artists to call on leaders of the entertainment industry to use their power and demand that Congress pass @potus’s #BuildBackBetter agenda this fall.”

Here’s the full text of the letter and a list of its signatories:

Dear Entertainment Industry Executives:

Climate change has arrived on our doorstep: California is on fire, record-breaking and deadly storms are flooding New York City, hurricanes are devastating the Gulf. This summer alone, nearly one in every three people in the United States experienced an extreme weather event.

Scientists warn that if we fail to act now, every single one of us will feel the impacts, a billion people will be displaced, and low-income people and communities of color will continue to be hit first and worst. Right now, we have a critical window of opportunity to do something about it. And we need all hands on deck to demand that our leaders protect the people we love and the places they live before it’s too late.

Congress has a once-in-a-generation opportunity to invest in a clean, just, and equitable future for all by passing the robust climate action that President Biden called for in his Build Back Better agenda. This legislation will create healthier communities, put millions to work in clean energy jobs, and free us from the fossil fuels that are driving climate change.

As the top leaders of the entertainment industry—one of the nation’s most powerful and influential business sectors—you are needed to lead our community’s call for action and embrace this vision for a better world. The entertainment community has a long, proud tradition of driving societal change. Our industry is already leading the charge toward more sustainable practices within our own businesses and productions. Now is the time to use your influence to shape our future.

Congress needs to hear you demand, unequivocally, that it put forward and pass the most ambitious climate change agenda in U.S. history.

The plan currently before Congress will protect people’s health and clean up our drinking water. It will create a just transition away from dirty fossil fuels and create millions of new jobs. It will protect communities from climate change through investments in clean energy, clean transportation, and infrastructure upgrades. And it will make sure we finally prioritize and invest in the low-income communities and communities of color that are hit hardest by both fossil fuel pollution and climate impacts.

This plan will create a stronger, brighter, and more just America—and we need you to help make this vision a reality.

At this pivotal moment, please lead the call. Demand publicly and loudly that our senators and representatives in Congress pass this critical legislation.

And we pledge to do our part as well. We will use our platforms to remind all Americans: Tell your senators and representatives in Congress that you demand climate action now. Advocate for Congress to take up the president’s climate agenda. And don’t stop there. Tweet. Post. E-mail. Call. Whatever it takes.

Sincerely,

J.J. Abrams
Anitta
Jack Antonoff
Troian Bellisario
Greg Berlanti
Cate Blanchett
Benny Blanco
Dave Burd aka “Lil Dicky”
Camila Cabello
Dove Cameron
Alessia Cara
Don Cheadle
Glenn Close
Coldplay
Jacob Collier
Lily Collins
James Corden
Ellen DeGeneres
Cara Delevingne
Leonardo DiCaprio
Zac Efron
Billie Eilish
Chris Evans
Jimmy Fallon
Finneas
Selena Gomez
Conan Gray
Grimes
Todrick Hall
Hugh Jackman
Jimmy Kimmel
Joey King
Liza Koshy
Lady Gaga
Cyndi Lauper
John Legend
Adam Levine
Kevin Liles
Dua Lipa
Lorde
Chuck Lorre
Julia Louis-Dreyfus
Demi Lovato
Ziggy Marley
Shawn Mendes
Idina Menzel
Lin-Manuel Miranda
Sean Penn
Joaquin Phoenix
Billy Porter
Zachary Quinto
Addison Rae
Robert Redford
Ryan Reynolds
Mark Ronson
Kyra Sedgwick
Shakira
Lilly Singh
Troye Sivan
Barbra Streisand
Wes Studi
Ryan Tedder
Justin Timberlake
Kerry Washington
Sigourney Weaver
Shailene Woodley
Calum Worthy

William Morrow Acquires North American Publishing Rights to Luis Elizondo’s Memoir About His Government Work, Including Heading the U.S.’ UFO Program

Luis Elizondo’s out of this world memoir is headed to the printer…

HarperCollins imprint William Morrow has signed on for the North American publishing rights to a new memoir from the Cuban American former U.S. Army Counterintelligence Special Agent and former employee of the Office of the Under Secretary of Defense for Intelligence.

Luis Elizondo

Elizondo is the former head of the U.S. Government’s UFO program, the Advanced Aerospace Threat Identification Program (AATIP). He was recently featured in a CBS 60 Minutes story about the potential existence of UFOs.

Following the Pentagon’s recent report to the U.S. Congress regarding UFOs, Elizondo was quoted saying, “The American people now know a small portion of what I and my colleagues in the Pentagon have been privy to: That these UAP (unidentified aerial phenomenon) are not secret U.S. technology, that they do not seem to belong to any known allies or adversaries, and that our intelligence services have yet to identify a terrestrial explanation for these extraordinary vehicles. This conversation is only just beginning.”

Elizondo spent the majority of his military career as a senior Intelligence Officer, hunting drug traffickers, terrorists, and spies around the world on behalf of the U.S. government and various branches of the military. In 2008, he was asked to be part of the Pentagon’s secretive UFO program. In 2010 he became its Director and led the effort to study UFOs around the world. In 2017, he resigned from his position in protest of excessive government secrecy regarding UFOs. Since then, he has led the global disclosure effort.

Christina Aguilera Among Celebrities Urging U.S. Senators to Stop Gun Violence Now

Christina Aguilera is calling for politicians to take action on the issue of gun reform

The 40-year-old half-Ecuadorian American Grammy-winning singer has joined a roster of celebrities who’ve signed an open letter to U.S. Senators urging them stop gun violence now.

Christina Aguilera

Five years ago, amidst a string of deadly attacks at live music venues including the horrific mass shooting at Pulse nightclub in Orlando, Fla., on June 12, 2016, the cover of Billboard‘s July 2016 issue featured an open letter to U.S. Congress signed by 200 artists and music industry executives calling for gun reform.

Unfortunately, the need for reform has only grown stronger as shootings have continued around the country at a terrifying rate.

So now, five years later, as venues prepare to reopen after their pandemic shutdown and music fans ready to return to concerts and festivals, we stand again with the music community to ask lawmakers to take swift action to stop the violence. — Hannah Karp, Billboard editorial director

An Open Letter to Senators: Stop Gun Violence Now

As leading artists and executives in the music industry, we are adding our voices to the chorus of Americans demanding change.

Music always has been celebrated communally, on dance floors and at concert halls. But this life-affirming ritual, like so many other daily experiences — going to school or church or work — continues to be threatened, because of gun violence in this country.

The one thing that connects the tragedies like the shootings in Boulder, El Paso, Las Vegas, Parkland and so many other places in America, to the one that happened in Orlando five years ago this June, is that it is far too easy for dangerous people to get their hands on guns.

We call on the Senate to do more to prevent the gun violence that kills more than 100 Americans every day and injures hundreds more: Take action on background checks.

Billboard and the undersigned implore you — the people who are elected to represent us — to close the deadly loopholes that put the lives of so many music fans, and all of us, at risk.

Sincerely,

Christina Aguilera, Tori Amos, Sara Barielles, Aaron Bay-Schuck, Tony Bennett, Selim Bouab, Rob Bourdon, Scooter Braun, Cortez Bryant, Michael Bublé, Vanessa Carlton, Joseph Carozza, Steve Cooper, Tom Corson, Lee Daniels, Ellen DeGeneres, Brad Delson, Diplo, Mike Easterlin, John Esposito, Melissa Etheridge, Fletcher, Luis Fonsi, Becky G, Kevin Gore, Julie Greenwald, Josh Groban, Horacio Gutierrez, Joe Hahn, Halsey, Billy Joel, Craig Kallman, Alicia Keys, Kid Cudi, Carole King, Elle King, Adam Lambert, Cyndi Lauper, Kevin Liles, Dre London, Jennifer Lopez, Macklemore, Zayn Malik, Carianne Marshall, Ricky Martin, Paul McCartney, Julia Michaels, Guy Moot, Jason Mraz, Gregg Nadel, Yoko Ono, Mark Pinkus, Gregory Porter, Prince Royce, Bonnie Raitt, Dawn Richard, RMR, Paul Robinson, Maggie Rogers, Kelly Rowland, Mike Shinoda, Sia, Matt Signore, Britney Spears, Rob Stevenson, Sting, Barbra Streisand, Justin Tranter, Sir Trilli, Sharon Van Etten, Aimie Vaughn-Fruehe, Eddie Vedder, Andrew Watt.

If you’re interested in signing the letter, you can email guncontrol@billboard.com.

Juani Feliz Lands Recurring Role on Amazon’s Comedy Series “Harlem”

Juani Feliz is heading to Harlem

The Dominican actress has landed a recurring role on Amazon’s Harlem, the comedy series from Tracy Oliver, Amy Poehler’s Paper Kite Productions and Universal Television.

Juani Feliz

Feliz joins a roster of new cast additions that include Andrea Martin, Robert Ri’chard, Kate Rockwell and Sullivan Jones.

They’ll join previously announced Whoopi Goldberg and Jasmine Guy, who also recur.

Created, written and executive produced by Oliver, Harlem, formerly the Untitled Tracy Oliver Project, is a single-camera comedy following the lives of four black women, friends from their college days at NYU, as they navigate sex, relationships and chasing their dreams.

Feliz is Isabela, a local politician on track to beating AOC’s record as the youngest member of U.S. Congress and a new friend of Quinn’s.

Feliz was a series regular on the ABC pilot, Until the Wedding. She has also recurred on CBS Blue Bloods and NBC’s Shades of Blue.

On the film side, her credits include the thriller Canal Street, The Purge: Election Year, The Polka King and indie feature Quiet In My Town.

Alex Padilla Sworn In by Predecessor Kamala Harris as California’s First Mexican American & Hispanic U.S. Senator

Alex Padilla is officially representing the Great State of California

Democrats took control of the U.S. Senate for the first time since 2015, as Vice President Kamala Harris swore in the 47-year-old Mexican American politician as her appointed successor, as well as Raphael Warnock and Jon Ossoff, who won their races against Republican incumbents in Georgia his month.

Alex Padilla

On December 22, 2020, California governor Gavin Newsom appointed Padilla to succeed Harris in the Senate, after Harris was elected as vice president. He’s the first Mexican American and Hispanic senator from California, the first senator from Southern California since 1992, and the first male senator to represent the state since 1993.

“I need to catch my breath, so much is happening,” said Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-NY), who now is the new majority leader.

Alex Padilla

The Senate split is 50-50 now, but Democrats will have the edge because Harris has a tie-breaking vote. That might be needed, as Joe Biden tries to usher through a series of legislative priorities, including a $1.9 trillion COVID-19 relief package and immigration reform.

Sen. Patrick Leahy (D-VT) will be the president pro tem of the Senate, which is third in line for the presidency following the vice president and Speaker of the House.

With Democratic control of Congress and the White House, there is some expectation that legislation will face legal challenges, as Donald Trump was able to appoint more than 200 judges to the federal bench, including three Supreme Court seats.

U.S. Senator Bob Menendez Celebrates Passage of Legislation to Establish National Museum of the American Latino

Bob Menendez is celebrating a big win for Latino history in the United States.

Congress has passed a massive legislation package that green-lights the establishment of a long-awaited Smithsonian museum dedicated to American Latinos.

Bob Menendez

The 66-year-old Cuban American politician, currently serving as the U.S. Senator from New Jersey, was the lead sponsor of the U.S. Senate bill.

Menendez, a longtime advocate for a Latino museum said that the museum’s passage is the “culmination of decades of hard work, advocacy, successes and setbacks in the movement to recognize Latino contributions to America’s history, economy and culture.”

Though the museum could take years to conceptualize, curate and build, U.S. Congress‘ approval is a victory for the museum’s advocates whose efforts date back decades.

The American Latino museum will “illuminate the story of the United States for the benefit of all by featuring Latino contributions,” decades after the Smithsonian issued a report finding that it displayed a pattern of “willful neglect,” excluding and ignoring the presence and contributions of Latino Americans in both its workforce and exhibition halls.

“With this vote, Latinos and Latinas across our nation will finally have their stories, struggles, and impact on our country validated by the United States Congress,” Menendez said in a statement.

Menendez said he “cannot wait until the day when I can take my granddaughters to visit the National Museum of the American Latino in our nation’s capital.”

Half of the museum’s funding will be provided by federal funds and the other half from private donations. The museum has two years to designate a site.

In 2011, a 23-member presidential commission estimated that a “Smithsonian American Latino Museum” would cost $600 million divided between private donations and congressional appropriations.

The Democratic-led US House had approved the bill to establish a Latino museum in July by voice vote.

In the US Senate, however, passage of the bill by unanimous consent was blocked by Utah Senator Mike Lee, who argued that the country doesn’t need “separate but equal museums.”

The Smithsonian Institution “should not have an exclusive museum of American Latino history or a museum of women’s history or museum of American men’s history or Mormon history or Asian American history or Catholic history. American history is an inclusive story that should unite us,” Lee said in remarks made earlier this month.

Teresa Leger Fernandez Becomes First Woman Elected to New Mexico’s Congressional District 3

Teresa Leger Fernandez is celebrating a historic win on election night…

The 60-year-old Latina American attorney and first-time politician defeated Republican Alexis Martinez Johnson in New Mexico’s Congressional District 3 to become the first woman elected to the seat that is currently held by Rep. Ben Ray Luján.

Teresa Leger Fernandez

Luján chose to seek election to the U.S. Senate seat that’s being vacated by Sen. Tom Udall. Luján was declared the winner of the Senate race on November 3.

“It was so emotional to actually realize that I am going to be going to Congress,” Leger Fernandez said during a virtual Democratic Party watch party.

But the history doesn’t end there…

Leger Fernandez and fellow winners Republican Yvette Herrell and Democratic U.S. Rep. Debra Haaland all won in New Mexico, making it the first state to elect all women of color to Congress, according to The Hill.

Ritchie Torres Elected as First Openly Gay Afro-Latino Member of Congress

Ritchie Torres is heading to Washington D.C. after a historic win…

The 32-year-old New York-born half-Puerto Rican politician, a New York City Council member, overwhelmingly defeated Republican Patrick Delices, to win a seat in the U.S. House of Representatives in New York’s 15th Congressional District.

Ritchie Torres

In the process, Torres has become the first openly gay LGBTQ Afro-Latino member of the U.S. Congress.

“Tonight, we made history,” he tweeted. “It is the honor of a lifetime to represent the essential borough, the Bronx.”

“I hope I can represent the possibility that a poor kid, a kid of color, a LGBTQ kid from a place like the Bronx, can overcome the odds and become a member of the United States Congress,” he said.

Torres will assume office on January 3, 2021

Torres will succeed Democratic Rep. Jose Serrano, who is retiring after 30 years in Congress. Torres told CNN that his “highest priority” is “the affordability crisis” in housing, and would work to expand the child tax credit to alleviate child poverty.

He said if Democrats take the White House and Congress, they would have a “once in a century opportunity to govern as boldly in the 21st century as FDR did in the 20th century.” Torres wants to “rebalance” the Supreme Court with additional justices and said if Puerto Rico votes in a referendum this November for statehood, then Congress “will have an obligation to act upon what the people voted for.”

Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez Routs John Cummings to Earn Second Term in U.S. House of Representatives

Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez is heading back to The District

The 31-year-old New York-born Puerto Rican politician, handily defeated Republican John Cummings in her bid for re-election as the U.S. Representative for New York’s 14th Congressional District.

Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez

AOC, as she’s known, took 68% of the vote, while her opponent, a former NYPD officer, scored 31% of the vote to earn a second term in the U.S. House of Representatives.

In 2018, the self-proclaimed Democratic socialist won the seat with nearly 80% percent of the vote, defeating Queens County Democratic Party leader and longtime Congressman Joe Crowley in the primary. She swept her way into the U.S. Congress with a historically diverse midterm group of freshman, including 36 women and 24 people of color.

Ocasio-Cortez currently sits on the House Financial Services Committee and Oversight and Reform Committee.

AOC has racked up several memorable moments in her relatively short time in Congress, including a searing takedown over the summer of Rep. Ted Yoho after he called her “crazy,” “disgusting” and a “f*cking bitch” on the steps of the U.S. Capitol within earshot of a reporter.

In a moving address to the House, she attacked deep-seated sexism and misogyny. “I want to thank him for showing the world that you can be a powerful man and accost women. It happens every day in this country,” she said, adding, “I am someone’s daughter too.”

Previously, AOC, whose parents are of Puerto Rico descent, was targeted by an infamous President Donald Trump racist Twitter tirade that urged her and Reps. Ayanna Pressley, Rashida Tlaib, and Ilhan Omar to “go back and help fix the totally broken and crime infested places from which they came.” The four became known as The Squad, and all four won re-election on Tuesday night.