Lin-Manuel Miranda apologized on Tuesday, June 15 following online backlash over the absence of dark-skinned Afro-Latinos in the recently released movie adaptation of his Broadway show In the Heights.
Miranda, the film’s creator and producer, wrote on social media that he was “truly sorry” as online discussions pointed out that the black Latinos in the movie were cast only as background characters.
“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,” he said.
Lyricist and composer Miranda, who also stars in the film as Mr. Piragüero, said he created In the Heights to be represented, and that over the past 20 years of his career “all I wanted was for us – ALL of us – to feel seen.”
“I hear that without sufficient dark-skinned Afro-Latino representation, the work feels extractive of the community we wanted so much to represent with pride and joy,” he added.
“In trying to paint a mosaic of this community, we fell short,” Miranda wrote.
He further assured the public, especially the Latino community, that he is “learning from the feedback” and will take note of this experience in his future projects. “I’m trying to hold space for both the incredible pride in the movie we made and be accountable for our shortcomings,” he said.
Before Miranda’s public apology, In the Heights movie director Jon M. Chu (Crazy Rich Asians) in June 9 story addressed concerns of colorism in an interview with The Root.
“Listen, we’re not gonna get everything right in a movie, we tried our best on all fronts of it,” he said.
“I do think there’s something to be said about sharing in experiences and me never wanting to say I know what I’m doing but to just give room to everybody to speak up about what we’re doing at that moment,” Chu continued.
In the Heights follows bodega owner Usnavi de la Vega (Anthony Ramos), who lives in Washington Heights in Upper Manhattan, home to a diverse and vibrant Latino community.
The film adaptation of the 2008 Tony award-winning stage musical was released on June 9 in US theaters and via HBO Max. Its box office debut gained $11.4 million after four days, lower than the projected $20 million.
With screenplay by Quiara Alegría Hudes, it stars Anthony Ramos (Hamilton), Melissa Barrera (Tanto Amor), Olga Merediz (The Sopranos), Stephanie Beatriz (Brooklyn Nine-Nine), Leslie Grace (Premios Juventud), Corey Hawkins (Straight Outta Compton), Daphne Rubin-Vega (Sex and the City), and Jimmy Smits (NYPD Blue).
In the Heights was originally slated for a 2020 theatrical release but was postponed due to the ongoing pandemic. – with reports from Paolo Alejandrino/Rappler.com
Paolo Alejandrino is a Rappler intern.