Rita Moreno Under Fire for Telling Critics of ‘In the Heights’ Colorism Controversy to ‘Wait’

Defending Lin-Manuel Miranda against the backlash over the lack of black Latinos in the musical film, the veteran actress praises the Tony-winning writer for bringing ‘Latino-ness and Puerto Rican-ness to America.’

AceShowbizRita Moreno has been dragged in the controversy surrounding “In the Heights“, no thanks to her own opinion about the criticism directed at the movie. Weighing in on the backlash received by the film over the lack of black Latino representation, the acting vet defended Lin-Manuel Miranda, who co-created the stage musical which is adapted into the movie.

Moreno shared her two cents on the issue during her appearance on “The Late Show with Stephen Colbert” on Tuesday, June 15. Speaking with the host, the Puerto Rican actress/singer said the criticism, which has focused on the dearth of darker-skinned Afro-Latinx characters in the movie, “really upsets me.”

The 89-year-old, who’s worked with Miranda on her documentary “Rita Moreno: Just a Girl Who Decided to Go for It“, went on elaborating her stance, “You can never do right, it seems. This is the man who literally has brought Latino-ness and Puerto Rican-ness to America.” She continued, “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.”

When Stephen Colbert asked if she thinks that the criticism was misplaced in focusing on Miranda, Moreno doubled down on her remarks by telling Afro-Latinos to “just wait.” She said, “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 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.”

After the interview aired, Moreno came under fire for her comments on the “In the Heights” controversy. “She clearly missed the point,” one person remarked. Disappointed by the actress, one wrote on Twitter, “I’m truly disappointed but shouldn’t be surprised.” Another fan echoed the sentiment, “I’ve looked up to Rita for a long time but I just lost mad respect for her. She’s another WHITE Puerto Rican.”

“I love Rita Moreno. Yes, Lin-Manuel has done whole lot. It doesn’t mean he couldn’t do better with representation for Afro Latinos,” a fourth person argued. “Why does the fair skinned always say wait your turn to darker skinned people?”

Someone else reacted, “that’s exactly what she said @Lin_Manuel , your friend @TheRitaMoreno just told the afro Latino to wait, wait their turn, why put up a fuss now. It is understood that the monster (studio/film giants) make the final decision but Lin have a lot of pull and you could made it happen.”

Miranda himself has apologized for falling short on black representation in “In the Heights”, in which he stars in addition to serving as producer. “I can hear the hurt and frustration over colorism, or feeling still unseen in the feedback,” he said in a lengthy statement posted on Twitter on Monday. “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.”

Promising to do better, he added, “I’m learning from the feedback, I thank you for raising it, and I’m listening. I’m trying to hold space for both the incredible pride in the movie we made and be accountable for our shortcomings.”

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