In the heights and colourism: a silver scenario not to be missed

“In the Heights” is a big screen adaptation of Lin-Manuel Miranda’s Broadway musical. It was seen as the stepping stone to growing Latin representation in Hollywood.

In the Heights’ plot and Colorism

The writers invite you to the summer event, where the streets rhyme with music and dreams transform overnight. “In the heights. Takes place in Washington Heights. The ambiance of the 181st Street subway station, where a kaleidoscope of dreams brings this vibrant and tight-knit community together. At the epicenter of it, a Usnavi bodega owner (Anthony Ramos), saves every penny of his daily hardships as he dreams of a better life.

Review of ‘In the Heights’ and colourism

The film has come under scrutiny and criticism for the factual and ethnic colourism and inaccuracy of the film’s cast. The crux of the matter is that the New York neighborhood at the center of history, Washington Heights, is predominantly African-Dominican. It is however pointed out that the majority of the actors in the film are Latinxes with fair skin or passing white. There is a dearth of dark skinned people in the movie. In an interview with Felice León, a video producer for The Root, Jon M. Chu, the director, tries to dismiss the allegations of incorrect casting by saying that they “tried to get the people who were best for them. roles “.

Leslie Grace, a Dominican-American actress who plays Nina, a Puerto Rican student struggling with belonging and community at Stanford University, is the only African-Latino lead actress.

According to the cast members, the audition process included “a lot of Afro Latinos,” which brings us to the burning questions of why not pick the “right people for the roles.” Black actors were mainly assigned to background dancers and extras.

Colorism is deeply rooted in the United States. There is a popular drug test, “alive and well and still thrilling” (according to Oscar-winning actress Viola Davis). This is called the “paper bag test” (to make sure the skin color is whiter than a paper bag). Viola also said that dark-skinned actresses have always been stereotyped as crack addicts and prostitutes.

Black actors and actresses have always been seen as damsels in distress, an addition to the cast of white stories depicting a “white savior” narrative as in To Kill a Mockingbird or The Help: Where Racism Was Seen From the Point of View. view of a white man, like a life. modify the experience; or films like The African Queen or Out of Africa, where the whole continent plays the role of second violin in the adventures of a white person.

With the diversification of the casting scene, there is still a big gap. A study conducted in 2019 and published in 2021 found that among black women portrayed in leading roles over the past decade, only 19% were dark skinned.

This framework ultimately reinforces a lens of white privilege and maintains an inequitable worldview that simultaneously fails to make the public see things differently. The damage is much more serious than it seems because for the public oblivious to the erasure – the white public – their willful ignorance is not only validated but cemented. The sect of the society which considers the black extras as an adequate representation and / or a progress which remains a progress.

With all of this in mind, there is still room for praise. In the Heights has received praise for its loving portrayal of a Latin diaspora experience, particularly in songs like “Paciencia y Fe,” which describes the plight of immigrants arriving in New York, struggling with racism, economic difficulties and difficulties in integrating. the story has an impact on the lives of many of its viewers, however, a widespread discussion of the film’s downsides could ultimately overshadow its best efforts.

Casting In the Heights and Colorism

The cast of “In the Heights” includes Daphne Rubin-Vega, left, Stephanie Beatriz, Melissa Barrera (rear), Olga Merediz, Gregory Diaz IV, Dascha Polanco and Jimmy Smits.

Reviews and ratings

The film received very good reviews all over the internet. The 2 hour and 33 minute PG-13 rated musical received a score of 94% on 2,500 audience reviews, 7.4 / 10 out of 33,000 reviews on IMDb, and a metascore of 84.


Hollywood has long glamorized light-skinned Latinos over Afro-Latinos, often turning down those latter roles that best fit their culture. It is an inaccurate and narrow representation of Latinos, who are diverse in culture and complexion. I hope projects like these will improve racial portrayal in cinema. If you liked this article, comment below on your expectations for the film and visit our website for more film reviews.

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