“West Side Story” actress Rita Moreno defended “In The Heights” producer Lin-Manuel Miranda when he was criticized for underrepresenting the dark-skinned, Afro-Latino population in his new film. Now she’s backtracking.
“You can never do right, it seems,” she told Stephen Colbert during a Tuesday night appearance on his show. “This is the man who literally has brought Latino-ness and Puerto Rican-ness to America. I couldn’t do it. I’d love to say I did but I couldn’t. Lin-Manuel has done that really single-handedly.”
The “Late Show” host asked if she thought the criticism of the movie was unfounded, or if the attack on her collaborator had her upset.
“Well, I’m simply saying, can’t you just wait a while and leave it alone?” she said. “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.”
Miranda himself released a lengthy apology on Monday that he was “accountable” for the movie’s shortcomings and was “dedicated to the learning and evolving we all have to do to make sure we are honoring our diverse and vibrant community.”
It’s unclear if Miranda spoke to Moreno about defending him, but a day later, she apologized for being “dismissive of black lives.”
“I’m incredibly disappointed with myself,” she wrote on Twitter. “While making a statement in defense of Lin-Manuel Miranda on the Colbert Show last night, I was clearly dismissive of black lives that matter in our Latin community. It is so easy to forget how celebration for some is lament for others.”
She lauded Miranda for his own apology. 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.” She concluded. “See, you CAN teach this old dog new tricks.”