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Theatre is a powerful art form that has the ability to inspire, challenge, and move us. At On The Stage, we are passionate about promoting the talented and trailblazing individuals who contribute to the theatre industry’s growth and diversity. We believe that sharing stories of accomplished individuals who have made a significant impact in the industry will inspire future generations and continue to push the boundaries of what is possible in theatre. One such individual is Phillipa Soo, a talented actress and singer who has captured audiences’ hearts with her stunning performances.
Phillipa Soo is a Broadway star, best known for her role as Eliza Schuyler in the Tony-award-winning musical Hamilton. She was born on May 31, 1990, in Libertyville, Illinois, and was raised in a family of musicians. Her mother was a classical pianist, and her father was a violinist and conductor. Soo began her career in music at a young age and developed a love for musical theater.
Soo attended the Juilliard School in New York City, where she received a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree in 2012. After graduation, she made her Broadway debut in the musical Natasha, Pierre & The Great Comet of 1812. She’s been in several films, as well, including Netflix’s animated film, Over The Moon and Hulu’s Dopesick. However, it was her portrayal of Eliza Schuyler in the hit musical Hamilton that brought her widespread acclaim and recognition.
Broadway’s Hamilton is full of powerful lyrics and moments, highlighting the shortcomings and successes of the founding father who began America’s first national bank. The nature of the story, however, highlights not just Alexander Hamilton, but all of the people who influenced who he became. In an interesting motif to the story, we hear Eliza Schuyler sing out, in strength, excitement, agony, and grief, “Let me be a part of the narrative, in the story they will write someday…”
For actress Phillipa Soo, this line is more than just a reflection of her character’s woes. As an Asian American woman and activist, Soo has also faced the challenge of being seen and heard in a society that often overlooks the experiences and perspectives of marginalized groups. Like Eliza Schuyler in Hamilton, Soo has sought to be a part of the narrative and to tell stories that reflect her own experiences and those of her community.
Soo has expressed her commitment to using her platform to raise awareness of important issues. In an interview with Refinery 29, she said, “I think that we’re living in a time when people are fearful and uncertain and are looking to find an answer to the chaos, but I think in terms of the rise of Asian hatred, I made it a personal goal of mine to uplift Asian stories and Asian American stories and at the same time lift up my own story.”
Through her work as an actress and her advocacy for social justice, Soo has been a voice for Asian Americans and other marginalized groups. She has used her platform to raise awareness of issues such as racial justice and representation in the entertainment industry.
“Theater is, in my opinion, an exercise in your empathy for humanity. You put yourself in a position where, yes, you’ll be entertained, but maybe you’ll be uncomfortable, or confused, or intrigued. The purpose of live theater is to give you the tools to deal with things that might be emotionally traumatic, or conversations that might be difficult to have.” – Phillipa Soo with W Magazine
As a woman in the entertainment industry, Soo has achieved remarkable success. She has won critical acclaim for her performances and has been nominated for numerous awards. In 2016, she was nominated for a Tony Award for Best Leading Actress in a Musical for her role in Hamilton. In 2021, she received an Emmy nomination for her performance in the Disney+ adaptation of Hamilton.
According to a study of the 2019 Broadway season, the Asian American Performers Actors Coalition (AAPAC) reported that only 6.3% of the onstage roles were Asian Americans. As a leading role in several notable shows including Hamilton, Into The Woods, Amélie, and more, Soo has broken down barriers and paved the way for other Asian American actors and performers. Her success in Hamilton, a show that celebrates diversity and multiculturalism, has been particularly significant. She quickly became a role model for young Asian American performers, showing them that they too can achieve success in leading roles in the entertainment industry. Soo spoke of her career, saying, “It’s so important to have representation and diversity in the arts that we make in Hollywood because these are all of our stories.”
Looking ahead, Soo has several exciting projects in the works. She will be playing the lead role in the Broadway musical The Girl Who, as well as playing Guenevere in Camelot. Soo is also set to executive produce and star in a new Apple TV+ series titled Shining Girls, based on the best-selling novel by Lauren Beukes.
Whether through attending performances, volunteering, or making donations, every contribution makes a difference in creating a more inclusive and vibrant creative community. Take a look at the organizations below and learn more about their wonderful contributions to celebrating the voices of the Asian American community!
Phillipa Soo’s inspiring journey in the theatre industry shows us that with passion, hard work, and perseverance, individuals can achieve their dreams. Her story serves as a reminder that there are many amazing individuals who are paving the way for a brighter and more diverse future in the theatre industry. As we continue to strive for greater representation and inclusivity in the arts, we can all learn from Phillipa’s example and work towards a more vibrant and equitable creative community.