In the Heights Receives Backlash for Lack of Afro-Latinx Representation in Film
Not everyone raves about the new In the Heights movie.
The film, which originally debuted in 2008 as a Broadway musical with lyrics by Lin-Manuel Miranda and a book by Quiara Alegría Hudes, raised eyebrows because of its lack of Afro-Latinx representation.
When director Jon M. Chu was confronted with this criticism in an interview with Felice León of The Root on Wednesday June 9th, he said it was "something I needed to be educated about".
“In the end, when we looked at the cast, we were trying to find people who would be best suited for these roles,” he continued, adding, “But I hear you try to darken these cast members with To fill skin. I think that's 'having a really good conversation, something we should all be talking about.'
Jon noticed that the background dancers were different, to which The Root journalist replied, "These are roles we've seen historically. We could be the dancers, we could be there." the hairdressing salons ... but a trace? This is the breakthrough. "
Ranking of the current TV musicals
She continued, "We want to see blacks in the heights. We want to see Afro-Panamans, Black Cubans, Black Dominicans. That's what we want to see. We longed and hoped for that."
The director replied, "I hope this encourages more people to tell more stories, to go out and do it right away."
In the heights
Leslie Grace, who is Dominican American and plays Nina in the musical, touched on the subject as well as the importance of inclusion with The Root.
"I didn't realize until this film was shot that I wasn't really getting to see myself or people who looked like my siblings, who are darker than me, on screen," she said to Felice. "And I didn't know how much that affected the limitations I placed on myself - being someone who wanted to be an artist, an actress, and even an Afro-Latina in the Latin American music industry."
"I feel so blessed that we can express the diversity within the Latinx community in ways we couldn't see on screen," she added. “I hope this blows the glass ceiling. Because I hope to see my brothers and sisters who are darker than me to make these films. "
In the heights, JON M. CHU, LIN-MANUEL MIRANDA, BTS
Melissa Barrera, who is Mexican and plays Vanessa, shared her view of the film's lack of diversity.
“The audition, which was a long foreplay process, had a lot of Afro-Latinos there. Lots of darker people. And I think they were looking for just the right people for the roles, ”she said. Regarding the casting decisions made. "For the person who fully embodies each character ... I think we are all very similar to our characters, so much so that often it didn't even feel like we were acting."
She continued, "And because the cast was us, after all, and Washington Heights is a melting pot of blacks and Latinx people, Jon and Lin wanted the dancers and the big numbers to look very honest with the community."
Lin-Manuel Miranda, Governor Awards 2018
After The Root interview, which went viral on Twitter over the weekend, many expressed disappointment with some of the responses from the cast and director.
"'There were Afro-Latinx people in the auditions, but they chose us because we fit the roles better' really? Nobody else could play your role?" wrote a Twitter user. "'But there were black dancers! You didn't see them?" We just didn't see any traces. '"
Another repeated similar feelings, sharing, "'Black Latinx ppl showed up at the audition, but none of them were good enough to get a lead role' is probably the worst excuse anyone can give for colorism (for which it is obvious there is no valid excuse). "
"To say that there were a lot of dark-skinned Latinx people auditioning and none of them got cast for lead roles because they picked actors who 'played what they were looking for' is very yikes," added someone else.
While some criticized the film, others sang its praises. Actress Ashley Nicole Black wrote, “When I saw In The Heights on Broadway, it redefined what theater can do for me. It felt like everyone in the theater was on the same page, everyone part of the show, like it was a black guy. ”Box or something. I was wondering if they could bring that feeling to a movie theater.
"Just watched #InTheHeightsMovie. This is a GREAT movie that speaks for us all. So proud !!!" Jorge Ramos said, director Carly Usdin added, "In the Heights was the perfect movie for my first time in 16 months. I remember what is so magical about the movie."
Although Lin-Manuel was not interviewed by The Root, he addressed the portrayal of the musical on Thursday June 10th when speaking with Vox.
"It is unfair to put an undue burden of representation on In the Heights," he told the outlet. “There are so many millions of stories - there's a song in Heights called 'Hundreds of Stories,' but there are millions of stories - of the cultural specifics of the Puerto Rican American experience, the Dominican American experience, the Cuban American Experience, and we couldn't take it all in our arms. "
At this point, Leslie, Melissa, Jon, and Lin-Manuel have not commented publicly on the movie's recent backlash. None of the film's other main stars including Anthony Ramos, Corey Hawkins, and Jimmy Smits to name a few.
In addition, E! News has reached out to representatives of the cast interviewed by The Root as well as Lin-Manuel, Jon and Warner Bros. Studios for comments. We haven't received an answer yet.
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