Anthony Ramos was ready to quit acting until he saw a life-changing production of In the Heights, which was "the first show I ever saw on Broadway."
Ramos tells ABC Audio, "I... wanted to quit because I just felt like there were no roles for me. No one was rushing to write the next Latino barely five-nine, freckled lead role. Like no one was trying to write a role for that guy... At least it didn't feel that way."
Recalling how "bummed" he felt after he didn't book a "nonunion national tour of In the Heights," Ramos explains why the musical -- which centers on the gentrification of New York City's Washington Heights -- was personally significant to him.
"I remember sitting in that audience and seeing all these people on stage," he says. "And I've seen shows before [where] I can kind of relate to [a] character... But I don't recall ever seeing a show and feeling as connected to the characters as I did when I saw that one."
"I'm like, 'Yo, this is different,'" he continues. "Like these people, I felt like I knew them. It was more than me just being like, 'Oh, I really liked that character and I kind of related to that character.' I was like, "No, I know that character. I know that person.'"
Ramos says watching the production felt "so familiar," including the music which he says he "grew up on."
"I was like, 'Maybe there's a chance for me. Maybe I actually can do this," he says. "And years later, I'm sitting with John Chu, having breakfast with him in L.A. And fast forward, I get the call like, 'Yo, they want to cast you as the lead role in the movie.'"
In the Heights is now available in theaters.