Thursday, July 29, 2021

‘In The Heights’ Co-creator Lin-Manuel Miranda Apologizes for Film’s Lack of Afro-Latinx Actors

"In The Heights" Opening Night Premiere - 2021 Tribeca Festival
NYC- JUNE 09: Lin-Manuel Miranda attends the opening night premiere of ‘In The Heights’ during 2021 Tribeca Festival at United Palace Theater on June 09, 2021 in New York City. (Photo by Noam Galai/Getty Images)

*On Monday, Lin-Manuel Miranda, the co-creator of the film “In The Heights,” took to Twitter to address criticism of the film’s casting. In particular, it’s been noted that only light-skinned actors were cast in the roles of the musical’s main Latinx characters.

“I hear that, without sufficient dark-skinned Afro-Latino representation, the world feels extractive of the community we wanted so much to represent with pride and joy,” Miranda replied. “In trying to paint a mosaic of this community, we fell short. I’m truly sorry.”

The film, which had a disappointing debut at the box office this past weekend, is a version of the very successful Broadway musical. It of course is set in NYC’s Washington Heights neighborhood, but only includes Afro-Latinx performers in background and dance roles. (Interestingly, one of main characters, Benny, is Black and played by the non-Latinx actor Corey Hawkins.) The rub from critics is that the real-life Washington Heights is heavily Afro-Latinx.

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Miranda, who wrote the music and lyrics for the musical with the book written Quiara Alegría Hudes, wrote on Twitter:

“I started writing In The Heights because I didn’t feel seen. And over the past 20 years all I wanted was for us – ALL of us – to feel seen. I’m seeing the discussion around Afro-Latino representation in our film this weekend, and it is clear that many in our dark-skinned Afro-Latino community don’t feel sufficiently represented within it, particularly among the leading roles. I can hear the hurt and frustration over colorism, of feeling unseen in the feedback. I hear that, without sufficient dark-skinned Afro-Latino representation, the world feels extractive of the community we wanted so much to represent with pride and joy.”

“In trying to paint a mosaic of this community, we fell short,” Miranda continued. “I’m truly sorry. I’m learning from the feedback, I thank you for raising it, and I’m listening. I’m trying to hold space for both the incredible pride in the movie we made and be accountable for our shortcomings. Thank you for your honest feedback. I promise to do better in my future projects, and I’m dedicated to the learning and evolving we all have to do to make sure we are honoring our diverse and vibrant community. Siempre, LMM.”

Meanwhile, some are also criticizing director Jon M. Chu for being a colorist.

Chu, who faced similar criticism for his film ‘Crazy Rich Asians,’ addressed the controversy by stating the ‘colorism’ debate was “a fair conversation to have.”

In a conversation with The Root, Chu said: “Listen, we’re not going to get everything right in a movie. We tried our best on all fronts of it.”

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