Jewish ‘Hamilton’ Star Says Her ‘Bubbe’ Pushed Her to Pursue Her Love of Singing
A Jewish actress who stars in the Broadway hit “Hamilton” credits her grandmother for encouraging her to pursue her passion for singing.
“I spent every weekend with my Jewish grandparents and it was really my bubbe who gave me my love of music,” Mandy Gonzalez, whose father is Mexican-American and mother is Jewish, said in a recent interview with the St. Louis Jewish Light. “She loved torch singers like Ethel Merman, Eydie Gormé, Judy Garland. I was the only one of the grandkids who would sing back, so there I was, belting out ‘Everything’s Coming Up Roses’ from ‘Gypsy’ and her saying, ‘Yeah, yeah. Keep on going.’”
The award-winning actress and vocalist, who plays the title character’s sister-in-law in “Hamilton,” added that her 95-year-old maternal grandmother grew up in St. Louis and was named the “Yiddish Queen of St. Louis” when she was 16. Gonzalez, 39, also told the St. Louis Jewish Light that she “strongly identifies” with Judaism, and “the beauty and culture” of the religion. The married mother-of-one added, “Having a faith community is such an important thing for a young person.”
Gonzalez told Parade magazine in 2017 that her grandmother “recognized and celebrated” her talent, and arranged for her to take singing lessons so she could express herself. During the same interview, she talked about how her parents met when Gonzalez’s father was drafted to fight in the Vietnam War at the age of 18. His family was so busy working that he did not have anyone to write to, which made him felt “very much alone,” according to the actress. He mother, “a Jewish girl from the valley in California,” wanted to join the Peace Corps but her parents did not allow it. Instead she wrote letters to soldiers, one being Gonzalez’s father. They corresponded throughout his year in Vietnam.
“He came back to a divided world that was wasn’t very embracing to the soldiers,” Gonzalez said about her father’s return to the States after the war. “He got in his car and found my mom. He had nothing but his heart. They fell in love, got married, had three children and have been together ever since.”