NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) – The musical-turned-movie In The Heights is out in theaters, but the film is facing a casting controversy.
Creator Lin-Manuel Miranda is now addressing criticism about the lack of dark skinned Afro-Latino actors in the movie.READ MORE: Honorees Announced For 44th Kennedy Center Lifetime Artistic Achievement Awards
As CBS2’s Dave Carlin reports, sightseeing uptown was Amy Perez, who says she loves the movie In The Heights, so much so she’s seen it three times.
“The background dancers, everybody kind of embodied all types of colors and races,” Perez said.
But she agrees with those raising questions of representation, including allegations of colorism – criticism that the casting of the lead roles appeared to favor light-skinned Latinx actors.
“You would think that they would have chosen someone, a darker complexion, so I can see that,” Perez said.
“I would say the lead characters should also have some variety of color,” said Jason Sanchez.
The creator of the musical, who was also a producer on the film, Miranda apologized for not having more Afro-Latino representation, saying in part, “In trying to paint a mosaic of this community, we fell short. I’m truly sorry.”
READ MORE: NYC Homecoming Week To Feature Daily Concerts Across 5 Boroughs, Capping Off With Central Park Show
— Lin-Manuel Miranda (@Lin_Manuel) June 14, 2021
“He’s apologizing because obviously it wasn’t something that was in his mind,” said Kecia Connor.
Colorism happens when light-skinned minorities are given more opportunities and privileges than darker-skinned peers, or even family members, an issue that extends to many racial and ethnic groups.
“This issue of colorism does actually happen within our own households,” Perez said.
“That’s what Hollywood does, though,” said Mercedes Arias. “Put the lead in the lead role and put the people who think they should be in the side on the side.”
“Do you think that’s colorism?” Carlin asked.
“I believe so,” Arias said.
Carlin spoke to people who say they hope this conversation brings a heightened awareness to casting the future.
“They could’ve done better, but the movie is done. So now when the next movie comes out that’s featuring a main cast of Latino people, they’re going to do better,” said Rebecca Wizov.
“That would not be an issue if people weren’t so divisive in the world,” Connor said. “One day all mankind will be past these divisions and things like that.”MORE NEWS: Free Performance Of 'Come From Away' To Be Staged At Lincoln Memorial To Commemorate 9/11 Anniversary
Miranda vowed to help in that fight, saying he’s learning from the feedback and he’s listening.