First-time nominee Lin-Manuel Miranda reflects on watching the Oscars as a child

Miranda's "How Far I'll Go" from "Moana" is nominated for best original song.

ByTaylor Maple
February 20, 2017, 11:51 AM

— -- This weekend will be the first time “Hamilton” creator Lin-Manuel Miranda has attended the Academy Awards, and it comes after a lifetime of watching the show. In a guest column for The Hollywood Reporter, Miranda recounts the reasons the show has always been special to him.

"When I was a kid, the Oscars felt like this impossibly larger-than-life thing," he said in the column.

He said watching the Oscars when he was a child was always a "family affair." Miranda, 37, remembers watching in 1990, rooting for "The Little Mermaid" to win best song and best score, the first time he "felt like I had a horse in the race."

The New York City native said some of his favorite memories of past Oscars include frequent host Billy Crystal's over-the-top entrances.

"One year he came in on a horse, another as Hannibal Lecter with the face mask, and one time Jack Palance dragged him onstage," he said. "I was a huge fan of those moments and musical numbers. They showed a genuine love of movies while still poking fun at them."

When Whoopi Goldberg won the Oscar for her performance in "Ghost (1990)," Miranda said he was watching. She gave a speech about having wanted the honor since childhood, and about admiring the actors who came before her. This resonated with him, he said, as proof that anybody could do it.

"I had been seeing myself in this world since I was old enough to do anything," he said. "And it was as if she reached through the screen to talk to me. I was that kid. Even my mother used to say, 'Remember what Whoopi said.'"

Miranda said his view of the Oscars has changed over the years. He realizes the ceremony isn't the "summit of success," but it's still special to him, particularly seeing first-time winners accept an award or veterans of the industry recognized for their legacies.

"I don't think of it as the be-all and end-all," he said. "I think of it as a collection of moments. It's a glimpse behind the scenes of Hollywood and a glimpse of actors and filmmakers being themselves in a very unguarded, public moment."

Miranda is nominated for the first time this year for his song "How Far I'll Go" from Disney's "Moana." The "Hamilton" star has also won two Grammys, three Tonys and an Emmy during his career, and this Oscar would make him the youngest person in history to take all four honors, according to The New York Times.

Regardless of the outcome, however, Miranda said the Oscars continues to be an important part of the filmmaking industry.

"The show inspires people to keep pursuing their craft, or to seek out the nominated films or the overall body of work of the nominees," Miranda said. "And through that exposure, people gain a greater appreciation of what the art of filmmaking brings to our culture."

The 89th Academy Awards will air Sunday on ABC at 8:30 p.m. ET.

Disney is the parent company of ABC News.

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