By: Christopher Cornejo, For Presente Magazine
A star has arrived.
Broadway, leading roles, and stardom. This is the life that Pierre Jean Gonzalez is currently living as he takes on the character of a lifetime starring as Alexander Hamilton in perhaps the most captivating and talked-about Broadway production in decades, Hamilton. Along with his current role as a stage actor, he is also a film and television actor, as well as singer and Producer.
In 2020, Pierre, along with his fiance, Cedric Leiba Jr, founded DominiRican Productions in an effort to increase Afro-Latinx and Queer representation behind and in front of the camera.
His work as an artist is certainly capturing the eyes of many, although this should go without saying as he does possess perhaps the most coveted role in all of theatre. Broadway World noted that his performance “as Alexander Hamilton brought a self-assuredness and intensity to the role, often a grounding presence on stage as the controlled chaos of the ensemble swirled around him.”
Being an accomplished actor, Gonzalez knew this was an opportunity to put his own personality and experiences into this role.
My Hamilton is scrappy and hungry, just like me, so that’s how I make the character mine.”
He says he is thankful for the platform he has through his role as Alexander Hamilton.
While he notes that it is a dream come true, the platform he has and his work off the stage help him achieve even larger goals.
“It’s hard for all of us, as people of color or members of the queer community or both,” Gonzalez says, “but through Domini-Rican, we want to make these stories come to life and give these kids these roles.”
He acknowledges the visible disparities in the industry he so dearly loves and hopes to break down the barriers that exist in it, to give others like him a chance to do great things.
Being in this role, it’s a beautiful emotion to have been surrounded by all black and brown people in these roles,” he says. “However, when we perform, crowds are mostly white, and so my company, we want to give access to kids and people who don’t get the chance to see professional productions.”
De raíces humildes
Gonzalez is a Bronx-born queer Latinx New Yorker who is proud of his heritage. He is quick to embrace and show off his roots and uplift those who don’t have the same voice he does. Gonzalez is someone who appreciates and is grateful to the community that raised him, and that community is not shy to show their gratitude in return.
What I can do is create media for the kids who look like me to see themselves,” he says. “These minority and queer kids are seeing themselves on TV being everything from doctors lawyers to barbers, and as long as it’s what you want to do then go do it.”
The Broadway star originally wanted to focus on singing, but that dream would never come to fruition, due in part, as he would detail, being queer and the fact that he did not want to live in a closet. He originally had a different life plan, outside of the arts completely. He details how through studying and working on his craft he gained opportunities to travel internationally to places such as London, where he studied at the prestigious Shakespeare Globe Theater. These are things he does not take for granted, however, and he is as grateful as can be for his success. This is one of the reasons why he loves to connect with his community no matter where he goes.
“Without the people before me who sacrificed before me, I would not be here, so I am in a constant state of gratitude, he says. “That’s why, In any city, I go to I want to meet the people I want to see my people and spread the love and information that there’s someone in our community doing these amazing things.”
Gonzalez is someone who thrives off of the success of their community, because he knows there are many in his community who have the same talent as he does, just not the same opportunities. This is what drives him and his company to work towards uplifting those without these opportunities.
What’s in the works?
The future is very bright for DominiRican and its founders, and the present is no dull light itself. Gonzalez has very big plans already in motion, some that he can’t speak about, and others that he is eager to share.
DominiRican is in the process of submitting our short film American Made to all the major film festivals and we couldn’t be more excited.”
The work is co-produced by Gonzalez and another common industry name Jared Dixon. The script was written by Christin Eve Cato and directed by Tiffany Nichole Greene.
“This is the first big jump we made in terms of production value, so it means something to all of us, especially me of course,” he says. “The fact that I brought members of my community in and am able to pay them to work on this, that’s priceless to me.”
The star has big plans for his future and that of his company. He knows he has the tools to make something great and long-lasting that benefits marginalized communities, and he intends to continue this trailblazing path.
We want DominiRican to be like Netflix, and to highlight marginalized and minoritized people’s works because those are the stories I want to see and those are the stories I want to fund.”
You can witness Pierre Jean Gonzalez and his portrayal of Hamilton at the Pittsburgh Benedum Center through the 13th of March. Tickets are available through online vendors or in person.