Lin-Manuel Miranda Addresses 'In The Heights' Colorism Backlash, Admits He 'Fell Short' Of Accurately Representing Latino Community

Jun. 15 2021, Published 1:28 p.m. ET

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Lin-Manuel Miranda is speaking out after discussions of colorism in the film adaptation of his Tony Award-winning musical In The Heights surfaced.

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Miranda — who produced and performed in the film, which is based off his hit Broadway musical — apologized to the Afro-Latino community after the film's director Jon M. Chu and cast members Melissa Barrera and Leslie Grace were asked about the colorism and casting choices in the film. During the interview, they discussed the lack of dark-skinned Afro-Latinos in the recently released movie.

The 41-year-old began his lengthy apology by sharing that he created In The Heights because he didn't feel noticed in the entertainment industry. "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," he began his Monday, June 14, post to Twitter.

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Source: Macall Polay/Warner Bros. Entertainment

"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 continued while acknowledging that his creative choices hurt others.

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"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 work feels extractive of the community we wanted so much to represent with pride and joy," he candidly shared.

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Source: @Lin_Manuel/ Twitter

Miranda then admitted: "In trying to paint a mosaic of this community, we fell short," before simply stating that he is "truly sorry."

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The writer and composer thanked the public for their feedback, promising that he will "do better in [his] future projects" and continue "learning and evolving." Apart from taking accountability for the film's shortcomings, he said he still has "incredible pride in the movie."

To conclude his lengthy rant, he ensured the Latino community that he "will make sure we are honoring our diverse and vibrant community" in the future.

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His apology comes after Chu, Barrera and Grace joined the The Root's Felice Léon last week for an interview. The host asked them about "the lack of Black Latinx people represented" in the film, noting that the main cast members "were light-skinned or white-passing Latinx people."

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The director praised Léon for bringing up the conversation, emphasizing that it is "something that we should all be talking about." Chu explained that when they were casting actors, they were specifically "trying to get the people who were best for those roles."

Grace, who plays Nina in the movie, said she didn't realize the lack of representation onscreen of people who looked like herself and her siblings who are darker than her until she made this film. "I hope that this is cracking that glass ceiling," she told Léon of the movie. "Because I do hope to see my brothers and sisters that are darker than me lead these movies."

Barrera, who plays Vanessa in the film, added that there were "a lot of Afro-Latinos" who auditioned for the parts. In the end, the casting directors were simply looking for "the right people for the roles, for the person that embodied each character in the fullest extent," she explained.


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