On Monday, Lin-Manuel Miranda apologized for the absence of Afro-Latino representation in the film adaptation of the Broadway musical “In the Heights.”
In his statement, he said, “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, “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,” he continued. “In trying to paint a mosaic of this community, we fell short. I’m truly sorry.”
In an interview with The Root, director Jon M. Chu was asked about the film’s cast, almost completely made up of light-skinned and white-passing Latin people. Chu acknowledged that it’s a “fair conversation” but defended their choices, claiming that they hired “the best people who were best for those roles specifically.”
Chu was joined by actress Leslie Grace, who spoke on the larger issue of underrepresentation in Hollywood. Grace is the only Afro-Latina with a prominent speaking role in the film. She explained, “I didn’t realize until making this movie that I didn’t really get to see myself or people that looked like my siblings, that are darker than me, on screen.”
According to Statistical Atlas, non-white individuals make up 82.6 percent of Washington Heights, the neighborhood where In the Heights is set, with Latinos accounting for most of that proportion.
— Lin-Manuel Miranda (@Lin_Manuel) June 14, 2021