"In the Heights" creator Lin-Manuel Miranda has issued an apology amid backlash over the underrepresentation of Afro-Latinos in the new film.
The movie was initially praised for highlighting the Afro-Latino culture in Hollywood but its premiere in theaters and on HBO Max brought a wave of criticism, with many speaking out about the lack of dark-skinned actors in lead roles.
Director Jon Chu's defense of the film did little to quell the outrage. Speaking with Root's Felice León, Chu noted that many of the backup dancers were Afro-Latino.
"Did you not see that in the dancer as well?" Chu said, according to BuzzFeed News. When León pointed out that those roles had been filled by dark-skinned Afro Latinos in the past, Chu said that, when looking at the cast, "we tried to get the people who were best for those roles specifically."
Chu did however admit that the conversation was a good one to have, adding that he hoped it would encourage more people "to tell more stories and get out there and do it right."
In response to the criticism, Miranda acknowledged the complaints the film had been receiving.
"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, particular among the leading roles," he wrote in a lengthy statement posted on Twitter.
"I can hear the hurt and frustration over colourism, of feeling still 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."
Miranda noted that, without "sufficient dark-skinned Afro-Latino representation, the work feels extractive of the community" they wanted to represent in the film.
"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," Miranda added. "I'm learning from the feedback, I thank you for raising it, and I'm listening."
Concluding the statement, Miranda promised to "do better in my future projects," explaining that he was "dedicated to the learning and evolving" that needed to happen "to make sure we are honoring our diverse and vibrant community."
Chu retweeted the statement.
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