Rita Moreno doesn’t agree with the recent criticism directed at casting for “In the Heights” and at the musical’s creator, Lin-Manuel Miranda. And on Tuesday’s episode of “The Late Show,” she defended Miranda as “a man who literally has brought Latino-ness and Purto Rican-ness to America.”
Critics of the film have pointed out that the film’s main roles went to Latino actors with lighter skin, with darker skinned Afro-Latinos only seen as extras and background dancers, despite the fact that Washington Heights, where the film is set, has large Afro-Latino population.
The film, which Miranda produced and co-wrote with “In the Heights” playwright Quiara Alegria Hudes, also removes a subplot from the original musical that tackles the issue of colorism and prejudice against Afro-Latinos and Blacks in the larger Latino community.
In response, Miranda issued a heartfelt apology on Monday, saying in part “”In trying to paint a mosaic of this community, we fell short. I’m truly sorry.”
Moreno, whose 2021 documentary “Rita Moreno: Just a Girl Who Decided to Go for It,” was produced by Miranda, doesn’t think he should have had to apologize. Speaking to Stephen Colbert, she said “You can never do right, it seems. This is a man who literally has brought Latino-ness and Puerto Rican-ness to America. I couldn’t do it, I mean, I would love to say I did, but I couldn’t. Lin-Manuel has done that, really single-handedly, and I’m thrilled to pieces, and I’m proud that he produced my documentary.”
“Are you saying that while you may understand where people’s concerns come from, that perhaps it’s misplaced in criticizing him in this?” Colbert asked.
“Well I’m simply saying, can’t you just wait a while and leave it alone? There’s a lot of people who are Puerto riqueño who are also from Guatemala who are dark and who are also fair, we are all kinds in Puerto Rico, and this is how it is. I just, it would be so nice if they hadn’t come up with that and left it alone, just for now. They’re really attacking the wrong person,” Moreno replied.
Watch the clip below: