Rita Moreno has stood up for Lin-Manuel Miranda amid criticism of the lack of Afro-Latino representation in her new musical In The Heights.
Moreno, 89, told Stephen Colbert on Tuesday: “It’s like you can never do right… They really attack the wrong person! “
The 89-year-old theater legend added that Miranda “is the man who literally brought the Latin and Puerto Rican to America.”
Moreno’s words carry weight given that she is the first Hispanic woman to win an Oscar. She received the coveted gong for her role as Anita in West Side Story in 1961 – another musical famous for the diversity of its cast.
Moreno’s remarks come a day after Miranda apologized for the apparent lack of diversity in her new film, stating: “It’s clear that many in our dark-skinned Afro-Latino community don’t feel sufficiently represented… I am really sorry. I promise to do better in my future projects. ‘
In The Heights is set in the diverse Washington Heights neighborhood of New York City, and there has been a lot of buzz surrounding the new film, which has been touted as bringing Latino culture to the fore.
However, earlier this week, some critics noted that lead roles were only given to Latinos with fair skin, while those with darker complexions resigned themselves to background roles.
Rita Moreno has stood up for Lin-Manuel Miranda amid criticism over lack of Afro-Latino representation in her new musical In The Heights
In The Heights tells the stories of several characters living in the Washington Heights neighborhood of Upper Manhattan in New York City. Miranda is a producer on the film he adapted from his hit musical
The controversy has prompted a number of famous names to champion Miranda – who is best known for creating the Broadway musical Hamilton.
In addition to Moreno, The View co-host Ana Navarro spoke up for her during a controversy segment on Tuesday.
“Give it a little slack!” Lin-Manuel is a guy who has come forward many times for the Latino community. Come on guys ! she cried, as Whoopi Goldberg agreed.
Last week, Felice Leon – a reviewer for The Root website – expressed concern about “the lack of Black Latinx people portrayed” in the film during an interview with In The Heights director Jon M. Chu .
She observed that the main actors “were light-skinned Latinxes or of passage white.”
Chu responded by explaining, “At the end of the day, when we were watching the casting, we were trying to get the people who were best for these roles.
‘But I hear you tryin’ to fill in these actors with darker skin [actors]. I think it’s a really good conversation to have, something we should all be talking about.
“It is clear that many members of our dark-skinned Afro-Latino community do not feel sufficiently represented within it, especially among the leading roles,” he tweeted. ‘I promise to do better in my future projects’
“I am very sorry,” the actor, musician and playwright said in a statement. “I can hear the pain and frustration of colorism, of always feeling invisible”
Miranda – who wrote and produced the film – then posted her apology on Twitter.
“I started writing In The Heights because I didn’t feel like I was seen. And for the last 20 years, all I wanted was for us – all of us – to feel seen, ”he wrote.
“I see the discussion of Afro-Latino portrayal in our film this weekend and it’s clear that many of our dark-skinned Afro-Latino community members don’t feel sufficiently represented, especially among the lead roles. “
Miranda, 41, continued, “I can hear the pain and frustration with the colorism, always feeling invisible in the comments. I’ve heard that without sufficient dark-skinned Afro-Latino portrayal, the work seems to extract the community we so wanted to represent with pride and joy.
The actor, playwright and musician admitted that the film “failed” and promised “to do better”.
“I’m so sorry,” Miranda shared.
“I’m learning from the comments, thank you for bringing it up and listening,” he added. “I try to make room both for the incredible pride of the film we made and for being responsible for our shortcomings.
“I promise to do better in my future endeavors and I am dedicated to the learning and evolution we all need to do to ensure we honor our diverse and vibrant community.
Miranda has apologized via Twitter after a controversy over colorism surrounding her recently released movie In The Heights. Photographed at the Tribeca Festival on June 9
In The Heights tells the stories of several characters living in the Washington Heights neighborhood of Upper Manhattan in New York City.
Miranda, who was born in the neighborhood, wrote the original play in college.
In 2004, he teamed up with playwright and lyricist Quiara Alegría Hudes to make this a live musical that premiered on Broadway in 2008.
It won four Tony Awards, including Best Musical and Best Original Music.
The film version starring Anthony Ramos, Melissa Barrera and Leslie Grace and directed by Jon M. Chu was released in the United States on June 10 in theaters and released simultaneously on HBO Max.