‘Hamilton’ Star Renée Elise Goldsberry Weighs in on Struggling to Have It All in ‘Satisfied’ Documentary

In “Satisfied,” Renée Elise Goldsberry’s vlogs capture how the singer-actor secured the role of Angelica Schuyler in what would become the 2015 Broadway phenomenon “Hamilton,” while also enduring fertility issues and trying to mother her two young children.

The Tony winner began vlogging about important moments in her life 10 years ago. Goldsberry used her iPhone to capture her young son’s birthdays and the 2014 adoption of her daughter in Ethiopia. A few months later, Goldsberry filmed herself after auditioning for a Lin-Manuel Miranda workshop called “The Hamilton Mixtape.” It was an audition that the actor, known for her roles in Broadway’s “Rent” and Netflix’s “Girls5eva,” originally passed on.

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At the time, Goldsberry was the mother of two children under the age of 5. She wanted to take time away from work to concentrate on parenting, but after hearing Miranda’s song demos for “The Hamilton Mixtape,” Goldsberry couldn’t resist.

“Satisfied,” which draws its title from the hit “Hamilton” song of the same name, intertwines Goldsberry’s home videos and her never-before-seen iPhone footage of early “Hamilton” workshops, as well as the show’s pre-Broadway run with archival news footage and interviews with subjects including Miranda. The result is a docu about a woman trying to do the impossible: balance motherhood with a thriving, demanding career.

Variety spoke to Goldsberry and “Satisfied” directors Chris Bolan and Melissa Haizlip ahead of the film’s Nantucket Film Festival premiere on June 22. (The docu made its world premiere earlier this month at Tribeca Film Festival.)

Renée, when you began vlogging about motherhood and “Hamilton,” did you know that you wanted to turn that footage into a documentary?

RENÉE ELISE GOLDSBERRY: It had not crossed my mind. But I felt that the experience I was having in “Hamilton” was so spectacular and signature. I was very aware that something was happening to me that a lot of people were curious about how it might feel. I grew up dreaming about being a part of an original company of a show, and I was very aware that that dream was happening in my life. I knew “Hamilton” wasn’t just a show. I knew it was a show that was going to be the greatest thing I had ever heard of. So I just like, there are a lot of people who would want know what this feels like.

So, when did you realize that you wanted to make your footage a documentary?

GOLDSBERRY: In 2020, when the “Hamilton” film came out on Disney+, I became aware that there were two different things happening in my life back in 2014 at the same time: me doing the show and raising these two babies. I thought that that was pretty marvelous and that’s when I thought, maybe think about this in a bigger way.

Chris and Melissa, what was it like to intertwine two very separate stories — Renée’s “Hamilton” success and her motherhood journey — into one 84-minute film?

CHRIS BOLAN: “Hamilton” was just the vehicle. Renée’s story as a mother and her fertility journey was why we wanted to make this film. So, Melissa and I and the team were constantly trying to find that balance to make sure that Renée’s [motherhood] story was never overshadowed. So we were constantly in those conversations.

MELISSA HAIZLIP: Careers have their peaks and valleys, and motherhood has its peaks and valleys. I think combining that story together is so relatable, so universal. But then the specificity of Renée’s journey and the connection to “Hamilton” is so beautiful that being able to thread that together brings in this story in such a unique way. So, it was really important to foreground Renée’s story and to find those universal themes. But then to see them through Renée’s eyes was just magic. The film is a love letter to family, to motherhood, but also to Broadway and “Hamilton.”

Did a large part of the budget go to buying the rights to the songs and clips from “Hamilton,” which are used throughout the film?

BOLAN: No, because Lin and and the “Hamilton” universe have been so incredibly kind to us. [The song] “Satisfied” was expensive. That cost a little chunk. But it’s the little things that you don’t really expect. There was part of “Rent” [that Goldsberry performed in] that Melissa and I had to actually take out of the film. It was four seconds long, but that was going to cost $30,000. But honestly, people were so incredibly more generous than I’ve ever experienced in any other film that I’ve been a part of.

Trying to be a good mother and having career ambitions are like oil and water. Renée, you managed to do it, but would you agree that motherhood and a thriving career are at odds with one another?

GOLDSBERRY: Women are always trying to find a way to justify that there was something else that we dreamed of that wasn’t just being a mommy, because we don’t want to minimize the significance of that in our life. It’s not that it’s not enough, or is it not enough? That’s the question. Is it wrong to ask for more than the miracle of family in your life? I think the answer is no. Yes, it’s a struggle. Maybe that might translate to people as, “Oh, it’s hard because I shouldn’t do it.” But that is a myth I’d like to break because, no, it’s just hard and yes, you need a lot of support. You also need to be very mindful about how you talk to yourself about it, but it doesn’t mean that you are not supposed to do it.

This interview has been edited and condensed for clarity. “Satisfied” is seeking distribution.

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