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Robin De Jesús Opens Up About How Late Rent Creator Jonathan Larson Inspired Him

Robin De Jesús Opens Up About How Late Rent Creator Jonathan Larson Inspired Him

robin de jesus

The tick, tick... Boom! star was speaking at the HRC's Greater Philadelphia Dinner.

Robin De Jesus is reminding us all that actions speak louder than words.

De Jesus was speaking at the Human Rights Campaign's Greater Philadelphia Dinner recently when he dove in deep about the power that representation has, and the power that love can have in all of our lives.

The tick, tick... BOOM! star was the dinner's Visibility Honoree, being celebrated for a long and distinguished career showing what's possible for queer people and bringing visibility to the queer Latine community. In his speech, he reminded all of us how powerful that kind of visibility is, and how many lives it can change.

"I had this vocal coach growing up, who verbatim said to me, 'you're short, Puerto Rican, you'll never make it in musical theater, become an opera singer where no one cares what you look like," De Jesus began, remembering a time not too long ago when success was saved for only a few.

"Years later I'm in high school, I discover Jonathan Larson, the writer/creator of Rent the musical," he continued. "But I had never taken in the show art. It's a bunch of Black and brown and white folks coexisting in little squares like the Brady Bunch. And they're in their twenties, working-class folks, rich folks, poor folks, and I think, 'oh, I didn't know that we had space here! I was made to think it didn't exist!'"

De Jesus didn't just talk about how important it was to see people who looked like him, he also talked about another way the late Larson inspired him in both his career and life.

"Jonathan Larson had this beautiful saying, this question he asked in all of his work, which was 'fear or love, which are you choosing,'" De Jesus continued. "And I often find that when I'm spiraling and feeling really really rough, I'm probably leaning into fear. But, when I center love, I instantly remind myself that I get to be a part of a 'we.'"

"So if you can, in those moments of fear and doubt," he closed, "remember and affirm love, and remember how lucky we are that we get to be a part of a generation that welcomes healing and protection for all those represented today."

De Jesus starred as Jonathan's best friend Michael in this year's Oscar-nominated film tick, tick... Boom!. His heartfelt performance as a young man who's afraid he's running out of time forms the emotional core of the film.

His next performance will be in Hulu's upcoming Chippendales series Immigrant, where he'll be playing Ray Colon, a Nuyorican handyman who becomes the self-proclaimed jack of all trades for the Chippendales in their heyday.

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