Rita Moreno stands up for Lin-Manuel Miranda amid colorism controversy surrounding In The Heights


Rita Moreno has come out in defense of Lin-Manuel Miranda amid criticism over the lack of Afro-Latino representation in his new movie musical In The Heights. 

Moreno, 89,  told Stephen Colbert on Tuesday: ‘It’s like you can never do right… They’re really attacking the wrong person!’

The 89-year-old acting legend added that Miranda ‘is the man who literally has brought Latino-ness and Puerto Rican-ness to America’. 

Moreno’s words have weight given she is the first Hispanic woman to ever win an Oscar. She received the coveted gong for her role as Anita in 1961’s West Side Story – another movie musical famed for the diversity of its cast.  

Moreno’s remarks come one day after Miranda issued an apology for the apparent lack of diversity in his new movie, saying: ‘It is clear that many in our dark-skinned Afro-Latino community don’t feel sufficiently represented… I’m truly sorry. I promise to do better in my future projects.’

In The Heights is set in New York City’s diverse Washington Heights neighborhood, and there has been much buzz about the new movie, 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 light-skinned Latinos, while those with darker complexions were resigned to background roles. 

Miranda issued a public apology on the matter Monday. He was snapped last week in NYC promoting the movie

Rita Moreno has come out in defense of Lin-Manuel Miranda amid criticism over the lack of Afro-Latino representation in his new movie 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 movie that he adapted from his successful stage musical

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 movie that he adapted from his successful stage musical

The controversy has prompted a number of famous names to defend Miranda – who is best known for creating the Broadway musical, Hamilton. 

In addition to Moreno, The View co-host Ana Navarro leapt to his defense during a segment about the controversy on Tuesday. 

‘Cut him some slack! Lin-Manuel is a guy who has shown up for the Latino community time and time again. Come on folks!’ she yelled, as Whoopi Goldberg agreed.  

Last week, Felice Léon – a critic from website The Root – expressed concern about ‘the lack of Black Latinx people represented’ in the film during an interview wiht In The Heights director, Jon M. Chu. 

She observed that the main cast ‘were light-skinned or white-passing Latinx people.’ 

Chu responded explaining: ‘In the end, when we were looking at the cast, we were trying to get the people who were best for those roles.

‘But I hear you on trying to fill those cast members with darker-skinned [actors]. I think that’s a really good conversation to have, something that we should all be talking about.’

'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 tweeted. 'I promise to do better in my future projects'

‘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 tweeted. ‘I promise to do better in my future projects’

'I'm truly sorry', the actor, musician and playwright said in a statement. 'I can hear the hurt and frustration over colorism, of feeling still unseen'

‘I’m truly sorry’, the actor, musician and playwright said in a statement. ‘I can hear the hurt and frustration over colorism, of feeling still unseen’

Miranda – who wrote and produced the movie – subsequently posted his apology 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,’ he wrote. 

‘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.’

Miranda, 41, went on: ‘I can hear the hurt and frustration over colorism, of feeling still 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.’

The actor, playwright and musician acknowledged that the movie ‘fell short’ and promised ‘to do better’.  

‘I’m truly sorry,’ Miranda shared.

‘I’m learning from the feedback, I thank you for raising it, and I’m listening,’ he added. ‘I’m trying to hold space for both the incredible pride in the movie we made and be accountable for our shortcomings.

‘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.

Miranda has issued an apology via Twitter after a colorism controversy surrounding his just released movie In The Heights. Pictured at the Tribeca Festival on  June 9

Miranda has issued an apology via Twitter after a colorism controversy surrounding his just released movie In The Heights. Pictured 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 while at university.

In 2004, he partnered with playwright and lyricist Quiara Alegría Hudes to turn it into a stage musical which premiered on Broadway in 2008.

It won four Tony Awards including Best Musical and Best Original Score.

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 simultaneously streaming on HBO Max.  

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