Following the release of the musical, the filmmaking team drew criticism for failing to represent Washington Heights’ Afro-Latino community, casting primarily “light-skinned or white-passing Latinx people,” as journalist Felice León told director Jon Chu. While Miranda apologized for “the hurt and frustration over colorism” on social media, Moreno — whose new documentary Rita Moreno: Just a Girl Who Decided to Go for It was co-produced by Miranda — supported both the film and Miranda during a Late Show interview Tuesday.
“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,” Moreno said, adding that she was “upset” by the controversy. “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.”
In his social media apology, Miranda wrote, “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, particularly among the leading roles.”
He continued, “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. In trying to paint a mosaic of this community, we fell short. I’m truly sorry.”