Lin-Manuel Miranda Says He Used Rap to Win Over His Wife: 'She Was Impressed at My Ability'

Long before Hamilton, Lin-Manuel Miranda had to find the right words to impress the woman of his dreams

There was actually a time when Miranda couldn’t find the right words.

“Lin’s got zero game,” says longtime friend and collaborator Anthony Veneziale, with a laugh. “He’s not a ladies man.”

It took seven years, but in 2005 the two finally connected when he invited her to a performance by his improvisational troupe, Freestyle Love Supreme, which combined traditional improv with rap. “I was trying to work up the nerve to talk to her,” says Miranda, 40, in the new issue of PEOPLE, on stands now. The two connected and stayed in touch.

Still, it wasn’t until Nadal, who was a law student at the time, attended a second show by the group, “That was when she asked me out,” he says. “She was impressed at my ability to do this very specific thing.” That specific thing allowed him to win over Nadal, who he married in 2010 and has two kids with—Sebastian, 5, and Francisco, 2.

And it led to the creation of Tony winner In the Heights, his 2008 Broadway debut, and eight years later to Hamilton, the cultural phenomenon that racked up 11 Tonys, a Pulitzer, and has grossed over $600 million on Broadway. The musical, about the Founding Fathers starring Black and brown performers playing white historical figures, is currently streaming for an even larger audience on Disney+.

For fans who want to see Miranda (along with Veneziale and Hamilton collaborators like Christopher Jackson and Thomas Kail) from the beginning, Hulu has the new documentary, We Are Freestyle Love Supreme. “I always joke that Freestyle Love Supreme was the opposing muscle group of all my other work,” says Miranda. “The degree to which it’s affected my writing is pretty remarkable.”

Not to mention the effect on his life, providing him the opportunity to impress Nadal, 38, with his dizzying talent.

During the pandemic, the two have been hunkered down at home in New York City, and have had to have some delicate conversations with Sebastian. “The hardest and most important part of being a parent is to imbue your kids with empathy,” says Miranda. “It’s important to have conversations about what’s going on with our kids. We’ve talked, in a age-appropriate way, about the Black Lives Matter protests and what’s going on with the pandemic. He certainly understands that folks are sick and that we’re keeping him safe.”

Veneziale, who has been close to Miranda since they both attended Wesleyan University 20 years ago, has also seen plenty of light moments. “Seeing him with his kids, and the way they’re so incredibly playful, it’s like, ‘Wait, how is he filming His Dark Materials (the HBO fantasy drama) and attending the stand-up comedy showcase his kid did in kindergarten?’ It’s cool to see him being the absolute best dad he can be.”

Veneziale himself has also come a long way since 2005. In addition to his continued work with Freestyle Love Supreme, he and his wife, a doctor of public health, created Bloom Playbooks to help parents discuss sex education with their children. “We want to de-stigmatize some of the shaming, and the fear,” he explains.

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