Rita Moreno Backs Lin-Manuel Miranda for 'In The Heights' Colorism Criticism

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Rita Moreno has some words for those speaking out about the whitewashing claims made about the film In The Heights: "Leave it alone."

The PEGOT winner sat down with Stephen Colbert on The Late Show this week and asked if she can address the critics of the film adaptation of Lin-Manuel Miranda's 2008 Broadway play, insisting that what she's heard has "really upset me."

In The Heights, which came out last week, follows the community within Washington Heights in Manhattan and has been accused of colorism for casting primarily light-skinned and white-passing actors. Many within the Afro-Latinx community specifically have spoken out about the issue of "anti-Blackness" being "pervasive" within Latinidad communities.

Moreno came to the defense of Miranda specifically, telling Colbert of the critiques:  “You can never do right, it seems. This is the 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 was thrilled to pieces and I’m proud that he produced my documentary," she said, referencing his role in Rita Moreno: Just a Girl Who Decided to Go for It.

Colbert pushed back at Moreno in an attempt to clarify her opinions, suggesting that perhaps she felt that the criticisms were justified but misplaced against Miranda directly.

“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 Rican 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. 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," said Moreno.

Her comments come on the heels of Miranda himself speaking out about the backlash. On Monday, Miranda posted an apology on Twitter and said he heard “the hurt and frustration” from the public.

“In trying to paint a mosaic of this community, we fell short,” he wrote. ”I’m truly sorry. I’m learning from the feedback, I thank you for raising it, and I’m listening."

Tags: Pop Culture

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Written By

Rose Low

Rose Low is a writer based in New York, with a background in social media strategy and reporting. She has a Masters from NYU and a love for romantic comedies. See Full Bio

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