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How a second-generation immigrant conquered Broadway as one of America's Founding Fathers.

The young man fixing his puffy shirt is Okieriete "Oak" Onaodowan, 28, one of the stars of "Hamilton."

"What time is it? Showtime!" Well, almost. All GIFs via Upworthy/YouTube.


"Hamilton" is a hip-hop-infused Broadway musical about the life of American's first Treasury secretary, Alexander Hamilton. In Act One, Onaodowan plays tailor-turned-spy Hercules Mulligan. In Act Two, he transforms into the father of the Constitution and eventual fourth president, James Madison.

He sat down with Upworthy to talk about his background and what makes "Hamilton" such a success.

The show is a critical and box office darling, already selling over $70 million in tickets for shows through next January. But it's more than that, and stars like Onaodowan have everything to do with it.

Watch Oak's interview and scroll down to see why this show is so special.

Did Oak, a first-generation Nigerian-American, ever think he'd play a Founding Father?

The short answer:

Please elaborate for us, Oak.

And for good reason. His parents both hail from Nigeria and settled in New Jersey. Oak was born in Newark, raised in East Orange and West Orange. Since his parents didn't have a strong grasp on American pop culture, Oak picked it up on his own and with help from friends. Before long, he found his place on stage and was performing in local and regional productions as a poet and actor.

Soon he landed on Broadway, performing in "Rocky" and "Cyrano." Huge wins for any young actor.

But a starring role as a former president? Even Oak couldn't have imagined that.

Instead of casting white actors for the roles of the Founding Fathers, "Hamilton" creator Lin-Manuel Miranda sought a diverse group of actors and musicians to take on the challenge of bringing these historic figures to life.

"Hamilton" debuted at the Public Theater in January 2015 to rave reviews. After a nearly five-month run (and a few months of transition), the cast made its Broadway debut last August.

Image via Upworthy/YouTube.

Oak has been a busy man ever since, performing to sold-out crowds eight times a week. The soundtrack (known as a cast recording) hit #1 on Billboard's rap chart, and the cast performed at the Grammys — also taking home the award for Best Musical Theater Album.

Miranda, Oak, and the rest of the cast accepting the Grammy Award for Best Musical Theater Album. Photo by Theo Wargo/Getty Images.

What is it that makes "Hamilton" unique?

If you ask Oak, the winning combination is quite simple.

"It's black people portraying old white men and getting everyone excited about American history," he said. "And us getting to understand these men through different faces."

What was that last part, Oak?

"And us getting to understand these men through different faces."

BOOM. There it is.

At its heart, "Hamilton" is such a powerful story because it makes these pillars of history, these fathers of our country, more accessible than ever before.

Through contemporary music and a talented, diverse cast, the show brings history to life. These American statesmen are no longer tired faces on the backs of coins. Their humanity is ever-present. We feel their fear. We empathize with their feelings of inadequacy and desire to be great.

For the first time, we're seeing these figures clearly — and lo and behold, they're a lot like us.

Leslie Odom Jr. as Aaron Burr. Photo by Theo Wargo/Getty Images.

Empathy and art go together like, well, empathy and art.

Performance is a powerful tool to explore a small part of someone else's lived experience. And actors like Oak Onaodowan make it possible, bringing charisma, guts, and heart to each show.

So when you pay to see live theater, it's not just a few hours of music in the dark. It's a chance to connect and be a part of something much bigger.

Now, on with the show.

The Prince Charles Cinema/Youtube

Brendan Fraser dressed as Rick O'Connell.

Brendan Fraser might be making the greatest career comeback ever, racking up accolades and award nominations for his dramatic, transformative role in “The Whale." But the OG Fraser fans (the ones who watch “Doom Patrol” solely to hear his voice and proudly pronounce his last name as Fray-zure, for this is the proper pronunciation) have known of his remarkable talent since the 90s, when he embodied the ultimate charming, dashing—and slightly goofball—Hollywood action lead.

Let us not forget his arguably most well known and beloved 90s character—Rick O’Connell from the “Mummy” franchise. Between his quippy one-liners, Indiana Jones-like adventuring skills and fabulous hair, what’s not to like?

During a double feature of “The Mummy” and “The Mummy Returns” in London, moviegoers got the ultimate surprise when who should walk in but Brendan Fraser himself, completely decked out in Rick O’Connell attire. The brown leather jacket. The scarf. Everything.

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This article originally appeared on 01.27.20


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A woman treats her miniature pig like a toddler and it even 'talks' with electronic buttons

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Photo by Ben Mater on Unsplash

A woman treats her pig like a toddler and the internet can't get enough.

Pigs are cute. Well, piglets are cute, but they usually don't stay those tiny little snorting things very long. That is unless you get a mini pig and name it something majestic like Merlin. (I would've gone with Hamlet McBacon, but no one asked me.)

Mina Alali, a TikTok user from California, has been going viral on the internet for her relationship with Merlin, her miniature pig. Of course, there are plenty of folks out there with pigs—mini pigs, medium pigs, pigs that weigh hundreds of pounds and live in a barn with a spider named Charlotte. But not everyone carries their pig around on adventures like it's their child.

Alali's videos of her sweet interactions with her little pig have gotten a lot of people wanting their own piggy, but training Merlin wasn't always easy. According to Yahoo Finance, the 25-year-old told SWNS that she has wanted a pig her whole life and finding Merlin was a "dream come true," but she wasn't expecting how challenging it would be to train him. If you've never been around pigs, then you may not know that they squeal—a lot—and unless you're living on an actual farm, that could be a problem.

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Democracy

More than seven thousand people shared their best ideas to stop mass shootings. Here are the best.

Everyone agrees mass shootings need to end. But what can really be done?

A makeshift memorial after the 2019 El Paso mass shooting.

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It’s hard to see these stories in the news every few weeks—or days—and not get desensitized, especially when lawmakers have made it clear that they will not do anything substantive to curb the availability of assault weapons in the U.S.

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People rally behind a 12-year-old actress who was 'humiliated' with a 'Razzie' nomination

The parody awards show has now enforced an age limit rule to its nominations.

Ryan Kiera Armstrong in the 2022 film 'Firestarter'

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However, this year people found the Razzies a little more than harmless fun when 12-year-old actress Ryan Kiera Armstrong was nominated for "Worst Actress" for her performance in the 2022 film "Firestarter." She was 11 when the movie was filmed.

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