Lin-Manuel Miranda Accused of and Later Apologizes For Colorism In ‘In The Heights’

Lin-Manuel Miranda apologized on Twitter after the new movie, In The Heights, based on his musical of the same name, received critiques for colorism casting from the Afro-Latino community.

Lin-Manuel Miranda apologized in the wake of an interview with director, Jon M. Chu, and actors Melissa Barrera and Leslie Grace.

In an interview with Felice León of The Root, who self-describes as a “Black woman of Cuban descent,” she asked the trio about “the lack of Black Latinx people represented” in the In The Heights movie, pointing out that all of the lead actors “were light-skinned or white-passing Latinx people.” After the interview, Lin-Manuel Miranda posted his apology, explaining “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.”

Lin-Manuel Miranda continued, “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. 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.”

“In trying to paint a mosaic of this community, we fell short,” Lin-Manuel Miranda admitted.

Lin-Manuel Miranda Accused of and Later Apologizes For Colorism In 'In The Heights'
lev radin /

He then apologized, saying, “I’m truly sorry. I’m learning from the feedback, I thank you for raising it, and I’m listening. I’m trying to hold space for both the incredible pride in the movie we made and be accountable for our shortcomings.” He finished by acknowledging those pushing him to do better, writing, “Thanks for your honest feedback. 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. Siempre, LMM.”

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However, star Leslie Grace saw the movie as a jumping off platform, rather than a barrier.

In the interview, Grace explains how Lin-Manuel Miranda and Jon M. Chu have opened her eyes, saying, “I didn’t realize until making this movie that I didn’t really get to see myself or people that look like my siblings that are darker than me on screen.”

She continued, “I didn’t realize how much that affected the limitations I put on myself, being someone who wanted to be an artist and be an actress and even be in the Latin music industry, being Afro-Latina. I feel so blessed that I get to express the diversity that is within the Latinx community in a way that we haven’t been able to see onscreen because so many times we’re put on-screen in one particular way, and since we get so little opportunities, everyone wants to claim that one story because it’s all we got.”

Lin-Manuel Miranda Accused of and Later Apologizes For Colorism In 'In The Heights'
Kathy Hutchins /

She sees the movie as a moment for the industry itself to change, explaining, “I hope that this is cracking that glass ceiling. Because I do hope to see my brothers and sisters that are darker than me lead these movies.”

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