Q&A: A STAR IS BORN'S ANTHONY RAMOS
The actor reflects on working with Lady Gaga, Bradley Cooper, Spike Lee, and Lin-Manuel Miranda.
Three years ago, Anthony Ramos’ life changed dramatically when he made his debut in Hamilton. For Ramos, who attended theater school on a whim after losing a baseball scholarship, the success of the Tony-winning musical catapulted a career that has spanned theater, television, and film. Aside from starring in Spike Lee’s Netflix series She’s Gotta Have It, Ramos can currently be seen on the big screen playing the best friend to Lady Gaga’s character in the Bradley Cooper-directed reboot of A Star is Born.
When you’re working on these projects, how do you manage expectations of how they’ll be received?
You just do stuff that you care about. Then whatever happens after that, happens after that. You have no control [over] how people are going to receive anything. The only thing you have control over is your own art. When you read or write it, if it feels good and it’s something you want to say, then nothing else matters. If I love it, I’m going to do it. Everything else just falls into place after that.
You were a part of the immense successes of both Hamilton and are now in the middle of the hype around A Star is Born. How do you stay grounded?
It’s faith in God. It’s having my family, who I’m so grateful for. They’re such pillars in my life. My mom always reminded me that there’s a bigger plan than the one that I see. My girlfriend. And even just coming home to a dog, because dogs don’t care what movies you’re in. They’re like, are you going to walk me now or what?
You’ve worked with Lady Gaga, Bradley Cooper, Spike Lee, and Lin-Manuel Miranda. What did you take away from these experiences?
The one thing all of those people have in common is that they work so hard. I’ve realized that if you want to be the best at whatever you do, you have to work as hard as you can honestly and by being yourself. Then you can take your dream to the limit. People can tell you no or it’s not good enough, but no one can take away how hard you work. If you gave it your all, you have nothing to regret.
How do stay in shape when you’re always being pulled in one direction or another?
It gets tough with the schedule sometimes, but I try to work out with my brother. It’s also eating right and drinking water. We’ll make fish, vegetables, and smoothies.
How did growing up in poverty impact how you look at life?
I grew up learning how to survive. I’m happy I grew up that way because I had to find a way, always. I had to watch my mom do it; she hid it from me so well that she was struggling. Looking back, it was pretty remarkable the way she never made excuses. We had to live cheaply and she just figured it out.
Was that an experience you still pull from?
Being in this industry, dealing with agents and managers and business affairs when you’re negotiating contracts… It’s like, you’re wheeling and dealing all the time. The hood was like boot camp for this new life that I have now. It gave me tough skin. I came of age in an environment where, when you’d ask yourself if you can make it out any further than what you saw, the answer was always no. So when I got out, it was like, “Let’s go.”