Shortly after the premiere of his Broadway musical-turned film In The Heights, Lin-Manuel Miranda issued a Twitter apology for the lack of Afro-Latino representation in the movie.
"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," wrote in the Monday post.
Miranda, who is of Puerto-Rican descent, produced and acted in the film based on his 2008 Broadway hit of the same name. The title of In The Heights refers to Washington Heights, a prominently Latino neighbourhood in New York where the Hamilton star grew up and still lives.
Critics accused the film of whitewashing the area, as the main cast features only one dark-skinned character — Corey Hawkins, who portrays love-interest Benny.
"In trying to paint a mosaic of this community, we fell short," Miranda said of their casting decisions.
"I'm truly sorry."
Director, cast speak about controversy
Miranda's response came after In The Heights director Jon M. Chu and cast members Leslie Grace and Melissa Barrera were interviewed about casting choices in the film by online magazine The Root.
"I would say that's a fair conversation to have," said Chu.
"We're not going to get everything right in a movie. We tried our best on all fronts of it."
WATCH | In The Heights director and cast members on casting decisions in the film:
Barrera added, "In the audition process ... there were a lot of Afro-Latinos there, a lot of darker-skinned people. And I think they were looking for just the right people for the roles. For the person that embodied each character in the fullest extent."
"I hope that this is cracking that glass ceiling because I do hope to see my brothers and sisters that are darker than me lead these movies," said Grace.
Discussion over how the film sidelined the Caribbean diaspora community also gained traction on social media, following In The Heights' opening in theatres and HBO Max over the weekend.
Miranda attempted to address those concerns in his Monday Twitter post.
"I'm learning from the feedback, I thank you for raising it, and I'm listening," he wrote. "I'm trying to hold space for both the incredible pride in the movie we made and be accountable for our shortcomings.
"I promise to do better in my future projects, and I'm dedicated to the learning and evolving we all have to do to make sure we are honouring our diverse and vibrant community."
Anticipated as an overdue showcase of Latino talent in Hollywood, the Warner Bros. musical-turned-movie had a lacklustre debut. It generated a modest $11.4 million US, despite forecasts that predicted a box office return of $15-$20 million.
According to Samba TV, a third party viewer tracking application, the film had a viewership of 693K U.S. households on HBO Max during the first three day window, as reported by Deadline. This was a drop compared to other Warner Bros. productions.