Camp. That’s what started it all for three-time Tony Award nominee Robin De Jesús. Not French Woods or Stage Door Manor or another musical theatre haven for youngsters in the Catskills, but the indie movie encapsulating all of those experiences and forever cementing them in the annals of film. “I randomly went to an open call for that movie, from a teacher that told me to go to it. And all of a sudden I was like, I just booked a lead in a movie about musical theatre,” De Jesús tells Playbill from the Cadillac Lounge.
Though he was bullied as a kid and told by teachers that there wouldn’t be a place for him in musical theatre, he has proved all them wrong.
De Jesús is about to celebrate the release of The Boys in the Band film adaptation (out September 30 on Netflix), in which he reprises his Tony-nominated role from the original Broadway company of the Tony-winning revival. And De Jesús’ career has been marked with roles that defy expectations, from Sonny in In The Heights to Jacob in La Cage Aux Folles and more. “That is very intentional and specific and not easy,” he says. “There are periods where I was not making money. There are periods post college where I did have to move back home and live with my family because I was so steadfast and intentional and stubborn in not doing certain kinds of work. I turned down work that didn't represent how I wanted to be represented or that I felt would have hurt me in a way where I would have been always typecast.”
As part of the cast of ¡Viva Broadway!, De Jesús offers another something different. In addition to reuniting with his original In the Heights family, he offers a take on an iconic Kander and Ebb number.
Watch De Jesús and over 60 other Latinx stars of stage and screen in Playbill and The Broadway League’s ¡Viva Broadway! Hear Our Voices, sponsored by Cadillac. The star-studded concert event is a benefit performance for Broadway Cares/Equity Fights AIDS and Broadway Bridges. Tune in to the premiere October 1 8PM ET at Playbill.com/Viva.