Actress Rita Moreno defended Broadway playwright Lin-Manuel Miranda after he was criticized for not including more dark-skinned Latinos in his new film, saying “you can never do right” in today’s culture.
“Can we talk for a second about that criticism about Lin-Manuel Miranda? That really upsets me,” Ms. Moreno, 89, told late-night TV host Stephen Colbert. “It’s like you can never do right, it seems.”
Mr. Miranda came under fire this week for having a lack of Afro-Latino representation in his new film “In The Heights,” which takes place in Washington Heights, a predominantly Hispanic neighborhood in New York City.
Mr. Miranda, who is of Puerto Rican descent, apologized Monday and said he and the production team “fell short” in not casting any Afro-Latinos in the film’s leading roles.
Ms. Moreno, who is Puerto Rican, said people shouldn’t be attacking Mr. Miranda, who co-produced her 2021 documentary, “Rita Moreno: Just a Girl Who Decided to Go for It.”
“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,” said Ms. Moreno, who won an Oscar for her role as Anita in the 1961 film “West Side Story.”
“Lin-Manuel has done that, really, single-handedly, and I’m thrilled to pieces, and I’m proud that he produced my documentary,” she said.
Mr. Colbert asked, “Are you saying that while you may understand where people’s concerns come from, that perhaps it’s misplaced in criticizing him in this?”
“I’m simply saying, ‘Can’t you just wait a while and leave it alone?’” Ms. Moreno responded. “There’s a lot of people who are puertorriqueño, who are also from Guatemala, who are dark and who are also fair. We are all colors in Puerto Rico. And this is how it is.
“They’re really attacking the wrong person,” she added.