Lin-Manuel Miranda apologizes for lack of dark-skinned Afro-Latinos in ‘In The Heights’

"I can hear the hurt and frustration over colorism, of feeling still unseen in the feedback," Miranda said about the film.

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Actor/playwright/producer Lin-Manuel Miranda’s on-screen version of In the Heights opened with a disappointing $11 million domestic box office debut. The film, based on Miranda’s first Broadway musical, was expected to earn more, as consumers return to theaters as the coronavirus pandemic winds down. 

Variety notes the fact that In the Heights also debuted on HBOMax is the likely reason that it underperformed in theaters. They later updated that theory, noting the movie just may not have mobilized its core fan base. Others, however, have another, more alternative theory. 

Lin-Manuel Miranda (center) is surrounded by cast and friends at the opening-night premiere of “In The Heights” during the 2021 Tribeca Festival last week in New York City. (Photo by Noam Galai/Getty Images)

“Here’s where #intheheights went wrong: Black representation wasn’t important to the creators? Ok. Supporting this film wasn’t important to Black folks,” writer Demetria Lucas opined. “Also, the largely ‘liberal’ ‘ally’- audience that was also going to support this film, doesn’t want to look racist supporting it when The Blacks are angry about it.”

Lucas added that “despite the MASSIVE conversations (plural) about representation and colorism, this Variety piece is as clueless about it all as the director and creator are.” 

Or were, that is. 

The lack of dark-skinned Afro-Latino actors in In the Heights trended on Twitter for the entire weekend of its release. On Monday, Miranda penned a lengthy apology for it.

“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.”

“I can hear the hurt and frustration over colorism, of feeling still unseen in the feedback,” Miranda stated. “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,” he noted, “we fell short.” 

He said he’s learning from the feedback and that he promises to “do better” in future projects. 

In an exclusive recent interview with TheGrio, two In the Heights cast members said the diversity in the film was just the beginning. 

Corey Hawkins, who is Black, said, “I remember growing up as a Black man in D.C., Black boy in D.C., and seeing a lot of white faces on television and a screen. Sometimes you start to think that you need to aspire to something that is other than yourself. I’m so fortunate, and we’re so fortunate, we live in a world and time where this amount of change is happening. This amount of representation is being put out there.”

TheGrio’s Mariel Turner contributed to this report. 

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