Rita Moreno jumped to Lin-Manuel Miranda’s defence amid the “In the Heights” criticism, and now she’s clarifying her statements.
Moreno was chatting to Stephen Colbert on Tuesday’s “The Late Show” when she brought up those criticizing Miranda’s musical-turned-movie, based on the real Washington Heights in New York’s Manhattan, for failing to represent members of the Afro-Latino community.
Some pointed out that while Washington Heights is home to a large population of Latinos with darker skin, many of the main roles in the film went to Latino actors with lighter skin.
Miranda co-produced Moreno’s documentary “Rita Moreno: Just a Girl Who Decided to Go for It”.
The Puerto Rican actress told Colbert, “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.”
— The Late Show (@colbertlateshow) June 16, 2021
Colbert then questioned whether she was saying that she understood the criticism but that it was misplaced in focusing on Miranda, to which she replied, “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 colours 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.”
Moreno was subsequently hit with backlash on social media, to the point that her name was trending on Twitter. She addressed the controversy in a statement she issued on Wednesday.
“I’m incredibly disappointed with myself. While making a statement in defence of Lin Manuel Miranda on the Colbert show last night,” said Moreno.
“I was clearly dismissive of Black lives that matter in our Latin community,” she continued. “It is so easy to forget how celebration for some is lament for others. In addition to applauding Lin for his wonderful movie version of ‘In the Heights’, let me add my appreciation for his sensitivity and resolve to be more inclusive of the Afro-Latino community going forward. See, you CAN teach this old dog new tricks.”
Miranda previously addressed the backlash, recently posting on Twitter:
— Lin-Manuel Miranda (@Lin_Manuel) June 14, 2021
See more in the clip below: