The life and work of Puerto Rican activist and psychologist Luis Miranda — the father of renowned actor and playwright Lin-Manuel Miranda — is celebrated in the new HBO documentary Siempre, Luis.

Por Lena Hansen
Octubre 06, 2020
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The story of Puerto Rican activist and philanthropist Luis Miranda will be celebrated in the new documentary Siempre, Luis, which debuts tonight, October 6, at 9 p.m. on HBO and HBO Max. The father of renowned playwright and actor Lin-Manuel Miranda has been an advocate for the Latino community for decades, and serves as board chair for Latino Victory Project, an organization fighting for more Latino representation in government.

"Immigrants come to this country and have to work double to just get ahead," he tells People CHICA. "It ought to be all of our responsibility to make sure that we create social change, that we create conditions for immigrants to have a better life, to have minimum wage, to have healthcare for all. All of those are things that in the richest country in the world should exist and it ought not to be such a struggle. The fights that I fought when I was 30 or 40 years younger are still many of the fights against discrimination and racism that the Black Lives Matter movement is fighting today. The hopeful thing about all of this is that there is always a next generation who could see the injustice and fight the fight."

Directed by John James, the film follows Luis over the course of a year, showing his family life, his health struggles, and his relentless fight for social justice. Miranda left his native Vega Alta at age 19 and conquered New York City in the 1970s, succeeding as a clinical psychologist and later shifting to politics, helping political candidates understand the importance of engaging with the Latino community. "In 1990, Luis was the founding president of the Hispanic Federation, where he became one of New York City's leading voices for increased support to nonprofit Latino organizations," an HBO press release states.

(Paul Morigi/Getty Images)

The documentary features appearances by Lin-Manuel; Luis' wife, psychologist Luz Towns-Miranda; and notable figures in politics and entertainment such as former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi. It also shows how Luis pushes himself to help others in need, moving to action following the devastation of Hurricanes Irma and Maria in Puerto Rico and coordinating relief efforts and raising money and awareness.

Now, Miranda is focused on the upcoming presidential election, and hopes that the Latino community comes together to defeat the current president. "Our number-one challenge, even if a percentage of our population doesn't see it, is we have to defeat Trump," he tells CHICA. "There is no way that someone who announces his candidacy four years ago as he comes down the electric stairs in his palace on Fifth Avenue and says that Mexicans are murderers and rapists can be a good person to govern this country. Someone who today, a week and a half ago, did not condemn white supremacists who believe that we should not even be around as Latinos in this country — someone who cannot do that cannot be a good president for us. Someone who continues to downplay COVID-19 that has caused death for tens of thousands of Latinos cannot be a good president for us. So I believe that our number-one challenge is to get rid of Trump. It doesn't finish there — then we have to continue to fight the just fight for democratic rights that Latinos need in this country."

(Gladys Vega/Getty Images for "Hamilton")

Luis was also behind the titanic effort of bringing Lin-Manuel's award-winning Broadway production Hamilton to Puerto Rico, lifting the island's spirit in the aftermath of the natural disasters. When Lin-Manuel Miranda asks his father how he wants to be remembered, Luis responds: "What people think of me has never been important. I know what it is to be a minority and I am comfortable in that space. We have to do as much as we can because if not we cannot build a better place, but what I would want to be remembered is for having been a good dad, because at the end of the day that's what brings about your legacy, what's going to speak about the kind of person you were."