By Carey Purcell
Updated May 13, 2016 03:50 PM
Brad Trent

Lin-Manuel Miranda is known around the world as the man behind the biggest Broadway hit in years.

Since Hamilton, the hip-hop musical about the titular Founding Father, Miranda’s name has become a ubiquitous part of pop culture. So who is the man behind the music?

At a recent reception for 2016 Tony Award nominees, Miranda’s costars and collaborators shared behind-the-scenes stories about the creative mastermind. Along with reminiscing about their friendships, they opened up about working with the man who has broken world records, won a Grammy Award and was declared a MacArthur Genius – all in one year. Describing Miranda as “quirky,” “generous” and “the optimist in the room,” they all commented on his energy and drive as well as his devotion to creating art.

For more about Lin-Manuel Miranda, pick up the new issue of PEOPLE, on newsstands Friday

And then PEOPLE sat down with Miranda himself. Talking just as quickly as one would expect a prolific creator to speak (while also pausing to burst into spontaneous Beyoncé melodies), Miranda, who became a father for the first time just two weeks before Hamilton began rehearsals Off-Broadway, is the first to admit that his life has taken a wild turn.

“Literally everything about my life changed,” he said.

Miranda also recalled one of the first times he experienced the thrill of performing his own work: It was bird day in third grade when he rewrote a McDonald’s jingle to describe the feathered friends his teacher loved.

Watch the video above to hear Miranda’s bird day rap and hear even more about his life.