image copyrightReutersimage captionLin-Manuel Miranda is best-known for creating and starring in Broadway hit Hamilton

Lin-Manuel Miranda has apologised for a lack of Afro-Latino actors in the lead roles for his new film musical In The Heights.

The movie is adapted from Miranda's 2005 stage show of the same name, which refers to Washington Heights, a mainly Latino neighbourhood in New York.

The movie has been praised by film critics but also criticised for not using Afro-Latino actors.

Miranda acknowledged in a tweet that his film "fell short".

Miranda, who is of Puerto-Rican descent, served as a producer on the movie and had an on-screen role. He issued an apology on Twitter about not employing more actors of Afro-Latino backgrounds.

image copyrightWarner Brosimage captionIn The Heights is the film version of Lin-Manuel Miranda's Tony-winning musical

"I started writing In the Heights because I didn't feel seen. And over the past 20 years all I wanted was for us – ALL of us – to feel seen," he said.

"I'm seeing the discussion around Afro-Latino representation in our film this weekend and it is clear that many in our dark-skinned Afro-Latino community don't feel sufficiently represented within it, particularly among the leading roles."

Miranda said he could "hear the hurt and frustration over colourism" and said the film "fell short".

"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. I'm learning from the feedback, I thank you for raising it, and I'm listening." Miranda added he is "dedicated" to "learning and evolving".


— numa perrier (@missnuma) June 13, 2021
The BBC is not responsible for the content of external sites.View original tweet on Twitter

The apology follows an interview conducted by the journalist Felice León, who describes herself as a "blacktina", with the film's director Jon M Chu and the actors Melissa Barrera, Leslia Grace and Gregory Diaz.

The interview on León's online show The Root saw her address the fact that most of the actors in the film are "light-skinned or white-passing".

"What would you say to folks who say that In the Heights privileges white-passing and light-skinned Latinx people?" she asked.

Chu responded: "I think that was something we talked about and I needed to be educated about, of course. In the end, when we were looking at the cast, we tried to get the people who were best for those roles.

"I hear you on trying to fill those cast members with darker skin. I think that's a really good conversation to have and something we should all be talking about."

Social media users have also been criticising the film for a lack of dark-skinned Latino actors in its cast.

One Twitter user said "Black-Latin" people were a Washington Heights fixture and accused the film of "erasing" them from the neighbourhood.

I lived in Washington Heights for 5 years. You can’t take a step in Washington Heights without seeing dark skinned Black-Latin people. #InTheHeights erases them from the neighborhood. This ‘light skinned Latinx only’ story is very disappointing.

— Amara ❤️ #Democracy🇺🇸🇹🇹🇻🇪 (@Amara_deMachado) June 13, 2021
The BBC is not responsible for the content of external sites.View original tweet on Twitter

However another user urged others to "cut the guy some slack".

"There's justified pent up frustration in Latino community. For so long, we've felt under-represented and unseen in media," said TV host and commentator Ana Navarro-Cárdenas.

"But, can we recognize Lin-Manuel is a good, decent guy who's done much to open doors for all sorts of POC on Broadway & Hollywood.

"Cut the guy some slack."

'Lacklustre' opening

While In The Heights has been a hit with critics, it has initially disappointed at the box office.

It took what trade magazine Variety described as a "lacklustre" $11.4m (£8m) over its four-day opening weekend in the US and Canada. It was simultaneously launched on the HBO Max streaming service.

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The musical had been tipped to make as much as $20m (£14m) from its first three days.

Variety said the film's underwhelming reception was "puzzling" given the positive reviews it had received and the amount its distributor Warner Bros spent promoting the film.

It asked whether audiences were more inclined towards properties "with higher brand recognition" while suggesting the film might go on to become a so-called "sleeper" hit.

The film opens in UK cinemas this week.

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