Watch: Ariana DeBose discusses reaction to her Hamilton role
The 30-year-old star portrays Anita in the new version of West Side Story, but caught the eye last year when her role in Hamilton entered the spotlight.
DeBose doesn't have more than a handful of lines in the show, but is tied to the title character through choreography as an embodiment of the bullet that would eventually kill him in his final duel with Aaron Burr.
"I sort of connected the dots for myself when it came to portraying The Bullet. I don't really even think our creators knew what I was doing when I was doing it," DeBose told Yahoo Entertainment UK.
DeBose said that crafting characters like The Bullet is a key reason why she loves being part of the ensemble on stage, responsible for "creating part of the world that the lead characters get to play in".
She added: "I just viewed it as this thing that could really take on a life of its own. I think at the time I was performing the show, it wasn't delineated as a role in the playbill. I was just playing Woman 3.
"But it has been really cool to see how many people really took to it when the film came out on Disney+.
"I am honoured that people saw it, have enjoyed it and little easter eggs like that keep people coming back to it time after time after time. It tickles me to know I'm even a little part of that."
DeBose is more than a little part of West Side Story, taking on the pivotal role of Anita — the best friend of Rachel Zegler's protagonist Maria.
Maria finds herself in the midst of the gang war between the white Jets and Puerto Rican Sharks when she falls for Tony (Ansel Elgort) — a former member of the Jets.
It's by far DeBose's biggest movie role to date, following an appearance in Netflix musical The Prom, and provided her with an opportunity to work with one of the most famous directors of all time in Steven Spielberg.
"My audition process was such a specific experience. Steven had established this feeling of true collaboration right from the beginning," said DeBose.
She added: "He was just so approachable and warm. So after a while, it's not that you forget you're working with Steven Spielberg, but he sort of becomes Steven. He's a great human.
"So I think that made it all the more special, that he is such an icon and an artist of his time but he is very much down to earth and kind of normal."
Read more: 50 years of Steven Spielberg's Duel
West Side Story also stars David Alvarez, Mike Faist, Corey Stoll and Rita Moreno, who played the role of Anita in the 1961 film version.
West Side Story lands in UK cinemas from 10 December.
Watch: Trailer for West Side Story