Broadway star Lin-Manuel Miranda knows Hollywood is aware that Latino talent exists. He knows this because studios have told him in the past that the Latino talent who he wants to hire for his movies aren’t big enough stars.
“They say, ‘You don’t have a star who tests international,’” Miranda told Remezcla during a recent interview to talk about his upcoming film In the Heights. “That becomes a self-defeating loop that keeps Latinos out of the room.”
Miranda considers that specific excuse from studios a Catch-22 that they’ve been using for years. How are you supposed to create Latinos stars that will be successful at an international level if you don’t give Latinos the opportunity to be successful on a larger stage?
“You’re not willing to make Latino stars [and] you’re not willing to give us the chance to take on those roles that would be big, international movies, so, there are no international stars,” Miranda said.
Miranda fully understands that it’s because of his hit Broadway play Hamilton that In the Heights is now a feature film. “I wrote this other show that did OK and that was able to get me a second round of meetings,” he said.
Still, now that he’s worked his way through the front door of Hollywood, he’s pulling in as many Latinos and POCs as he possibly can. The Latino-heavy cast of In the Heights includes Anthony Ramos, Melissa Barrera, Leslie Grace, Daphne Rubin-Vega, Olga Merediz, Stephanie Beatriz, Dascha Polanco, Jimmy Smits and Marc Anthony.
“It’s getting harder to ignore us, isn’t it?” he said.
If In the Heights turns out to be a box-office hit, Miranda is confident that its success will permeate through everyone in the film–a film, he said, that’s full of movie stars who can carry their own films.
“Melissa [Barrera] is enough to greenlight a movie,” he said. “Leslie Grace is enough to greenlight a movie, and Dasha Polanco and Daphne Rubin-Vega and Stephanie Beatriz. These are all stars. Making ourselves a part of the conversation–that’s the gig.”
In the Heights will debut in theaters and on HBO Max June 11.