Lin-Manuel Miranda issued a statement Monday apologizing for the lack of Afro-Latino representation in the film adaptation of the stage musical, In the Heights.
“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 wrote. “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 the Heights director Jon M. Chu was asked in an interview with The Root about the film’s cast, which is nearly entirely light-skinned and white-passing Latinx people. Chu conceded that it’s a “fair conversation,” but stood by their decisions, saying they got “the best people who were best for those roles specifically.”
Chu was accompanied by actress Leslie Grace, the only Afro-Latina with a significant speaking role in the film, who spoke about the general issue of underrepresentation in Hollywood. “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,” Grace said.
According to Statistical Atlas, 82.6 percent of Washington Heights, the neighborhood in which In the Heights is based, consists of non-white people, with a majority of that figure unsurprisingly made up of Latinos.
Read Miranda’s statement below.