Legendary actress Rita Moreno has come to the defense of Lin-Manuel Miranda after he apologized to those who said there weren’t enough dark-skinned people in the big-screen adaptation of his Tony-winning musical, In The Heights.
Moreno, the first Puerto Rican woman to win an Oscar, appeared on The Late Show with Stephen Colbert Tuesday evening to promote the new documentary about her life — which Miranda produced — saying of the criticism, “it really upsets me. …You can never do right, it seems.”
Moreno added, “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.”
Dark-skinned Afro-Latinos had complained that In the Heights, set in the New York City neighborhood of Washington Heights, didn’t represent the faces one actually sees there.
EGOT-winner Moreno explained, “…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.”
She added, “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.”
For his part, Miranda took to Twitter to address the issue, saying in part, “In trying to paint a mosaic of this community, we fell short. I’m truly sorry.”
Moreno’s documentary, which documented her struggles and successes as a Latina actress, is called Rita Moreno: Just a Girl Who Decided to Go for It. It recently debuted at the Tribeca Film Festival.
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