Not even a week after premiering in theatres, “In the Heights” was hit with backlash following an interview during which where the director and three cast members were asked to address the absence of dark-skinned lead characters in the film.
Critics of the interview with The Root were not impressed with their answers and let their sentiments be known to the point that the interview went viral. Lin-Manuel Miranda, composer of the Broadway play “In the Heights” and creator of the eponymous film, caught wind of the commotion and decided to address it with a tweet on Monday, June 14.
The letter reads, “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. 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 role.”
The “Hamilton” creator continued, “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.” He confessed, “in trying to paint a mosaic of this community, we fell short” and added, “I’m truly sorry.”
The 41-year-old went on to thank the critics and assured them that he is “listening” and “learning from the feedback.” He concluded his letter with a vow, saying, “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.”
Fans responded to Miranda’s message. One said, “Thank you for actually addressing this maestro. Thank you for taking accountability. I truly hope that you learn from this and that the next project you work on has a wider range of wider representation. Sending so much love.”
Another wrote, “Criticism from Black Latinx is not meant to tear down or “cancel” you or the film. It comes from a place of pride and a responsibility to uphold the truth that 1) Black Latinx exists and are worthy of lead roles and 2) Washington Heights is hella Black.”
None of the people who were present in the original interview has responded to the backlash. Jon M. Chu, the film’s director, and actress Leslie Grace, simply retweeted Miranda’s message.