On Tuesday, actress Rita Moreno
defended “In the Heights
” creator Lin-Manuel Miranda
, urging those who have criticized the film for its whitewashing to “leave it alone.”
In an interview
with Stephen Colbert
on "The Late Show
," the PEGOT winner addressed complaints that the film, based on Miranda's 2008 Broadway
musical, did not adequately represent the demographic in Washington
Heights, the community on which it is based. Specifically, there has been much backlash for a glaring lack of Afro Latinx representation
alongside many light-skinned and white-passing actors
Moreno asked Colbert if she could respond to Miranda's criticisms, emphasizing that it "really upsets me" and pointing out that Miranda co-produced her documentary
, "Rita Moreno: Just a Girl Who Decided to Go for It."
“You can never do right, it seems. This is the man who literally brought Latino-ness and Puerto Rican-ness to America
. I couldn’t do it. I mean, I would love to say I could, but I couldn’t. Lin-Manuel has done that, really single-handedly, and I was thrilled to pieces and I’m proud that he produced my documentary,” the Puerto Rican actor told Colbert.
TONIGHT: Rita Moreno discusses the controversy surrounding her friend Lin Manuel Miranda and his film "In The Heights." #LSSC pic.twitter.com/4cQcvviaLf — The Late Show (@colbertlateshow) June 16, 2021
Colbert interjected, wondering if Moreno meant that the criticisms were valid, but that the focus on Miranda was misplaced, to which she responded, "Well, I'm simply saying, can't you just wait a while and leave it alone? There's a lot of Puerto Ricans who are also from Guatemala
who are dark and who are also fair. We are all colors in Puerto Rico. This is how it is."
, including members of the Afro Latinx community, have called Moreno's remarks "disappointing" and claimed that "colorism has no effect on her."
— Isabelia Herrera (@jabladoraaa) June 16, 2021 https://t.co/0cIgVXBXWu
When a light-skinned Latina is asked how she feels about the need for darker skinned Afro Latinx representation, the needle does not shift; colorism does not affect her. But yeah, another disappointment from a much-loved figure. https://t.co/R2bPtJIyen
— Morgan Jerkins (@MorganJerkins) June 16, 2021
Lil Naco X (@fidmart85) June 16, 2021 https://t.co/tutRy5eKrg
“How much time do you want for your progress?” —James Baldwin https://t.co/b7WkjmEgHu
— Valerie Complex (@ValerieComplex) June 16, 2021
Let us not forget that Rita Moreno had her skin darkened for her role in West Side Story. What is needed is more Afro Latin-American representation in Hollywood
. Colorism has always been a problem in Hollywood, which is why it must be corrected now. https://t.co/BPt1LOnscK
— Simply Kris (@KrisHuston77) June 16, 2021
Moreno's comments follow those of the film's director, John M. Chu, and Miranda himself, who both addressed the controversy.
In a video interview with The Root's Felice León last week, Chu said of the colorism criticisms, "I think that was something we talked about and I needed to be educated about, of course, but in the end, when we were looking at the cast, we tried to get the people who were best for those roles."
He went on to say that it's a "really good conversation to have, something we should all be talking about."
Miranda issued a statement on social media
on Monday, admitting that he had heard "the hurt and frustration" that the film had caused and saying, "In trying to paint a mosaic of this community, we fell short. I'm truly sorry. I'm learning from the feedback, I thank you for raising it, and I'm listening."