Q+A with Start with Art keynote and Hamilton’s Mandy Gonzalez

The 31st annual Start with Art luncheon will herald in the new arts season on September 1st at the JW Marriott in Indianapolis. The event will feature a keynote by Mandy Gonzalez, the current star of Broadway’s Hamilton, as well as other performances and awards.

David Lawrence, CEO of the Indy Arts Council, says, “We are really excited about welcoming her and hearing about her experiences as both a woman artist and woman of color. The kick-off is always a special time to meet with our mayor Joe Hogsett, who has been a champion of the arts here in Indianapolis. There will also be numerous performances by Indy arts groups. The ARTI awards highlight individuals who have made notable contributions to the arts. This year the awards were designed by Susan Tennant and they are just gorgeous!”

I had a chance to ask Gonzalez some questions ahead of the event

Nicole Bock: How has your life changed in the last year since portraying Angelica Schuyler in the Tony Award winning Musical Hamilton?

Mandy Gonzales: I thought I knew what it would be like to step back into this theater with the same creative team and same crew I worked with during In the Heights, but now I’m part of the Hamilton family, and the fans have welcomed me as well. I’ve been exposed to a whole new type of Broadway family who have shown me so much love. The fans of Heights are still around, and now when they come to Hamilton it feels like seeing family that you’ve grown up with. This is also the first time I’m navigating life on Broadway as a mother and that’s definitely an entirely different learning curve, but I’ve been able to introduce my daughter to the theater, which is a special thing.

NB: Why do you believe Hamilton has resonated with so many theater attendees?

MG: Hamilton’s music is universal, there’s something for everyone. The story is able to take the historical figures that we’ve been taught about, and portray them as real people, with struggles, and heart, so people really connect with them and respond to that.

NB: You recently started the #FearlessSquad campaign to inspire others to empower each other. What inspires and empowers you?

MG: My family and the community of support that I have behind me empowers me daily. Likewise my love for people has inspired me to create a space that follows the ideals I aspire to,  and seeing the squad interact and encourage each other inspires me.

NB: You are from California and currently live and work in New York. Have you spent much time in the Midwest?

MG: I’ve actually frequented Indianapolis in the past 4 years as a guest vocalist for the Indianapolis Symphony Orchestra, under the direction of Jack Everly! Every time I’m in Indy I have to stop at Patachou for their amazing coffee and food! It’s obviously very different from both New York and California but the kindness I’ve been welcomed with makes me feel at home.

NB: Do you have any other creative outlets that you enjoy in your time off?

MG: When I’m not performing in Hamilton eight times a week, I enjoy putting together my own solo shows. I’m actually also currently putting together my first solo studio album to be released this fall, working with my band and producers is an outlet I’m really enjoying.

NB: How important do you feel the arts are to the human experience?

MG: I think the arts are vital to the human experience. I know that finding music as a young kid opened up so many possibilities in the world to me, and I feel a responsibility to do the same for others.

Start with Art is one of the largest business and arts luncheons in the country. Contact Candy Marshall, cmarshall@indyarts.org for assistance with your sponsorship package. Early reservations receive choice seating to be closer to all the action! Sponsors receive incredible benefits including, new this year, free tickets to a full cabaret performance by Mandy Gonzalez on Thursday, August 31st (Silver and Gold Sponsors). Ms. Gonzalez’s appearance is made possible through a new partnership with the Cabaret. Join us for an incredible two days of performances and celebrating the arts in Indianapolis!

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