‘In the Heights’ Raises Hope for a Latin American Film Training

The enthusiasm for “In the Heights” has raised high expectations for Latinos in the United States, a historically underrepresented and widely publicized group in the movies. In the Heights full movie and with upcoming titles like “Cinderella” with Cuban-American singer Camila Cabello, “The Hitman’s Wife’s Bodyguard” with Mexican star Salma Hayek, and the revival of Steven Spielberg’s “West Side Story,” this seems to be just the beginning of a series. . of productions that put Latinos front and center.

“In the Heights,” which opens Friday, is an adaptation of Lin-Manuel Miranda and Quiara Alegría Hudes’s Tony award-winning musical about the hopes and struggles of the residents of Washington Heights, New York. Directed by Jon M. Chu (“Crazy Rich Asians”), many hope it marks a new start on the big screen for the nation’s largest minority group, one that reflects the changes that have already occurred for black and black actors and creators. Asians.

“You know, every decade there is,‘ Is this movie going to break? Or will this particular style of music appear? Or this particular artist or singer? Are they going to open the door for some kind of explosion? “” Says Jimmy Smits, who is of Puerto Rican descent. “I think the dynamics right now in terms of where we are culturally, just in terms of our population, and the potential economic power that we have,… the universe lines up in a nice way.

“You have this beautiful collage of people in the community,” says Smits, the star of “NYPD Blue” and “West Wing” who plays Kevin Rosario, a single father and owner of a taxi service, in “In the Heights.” “It is the immigrant experience that has been part of the fabric of this country since its inception. And it is positive. So we need it now, after the pandemic. ”

John Leguizamo agrees.

“I think ‘In the Heights’ will be THE project that will finally change everything,” says the Colombian-American actor and playwright, who began his career in film and television but, like Miranda, found a place to tell his story. history – and validation of this work – on and off Broadway.

Leguizamo, who won a special Tony Award in 2018 for his commitment to bringing diverse stories and audiences to Broadway through his individual shows, which include “Freak,” Ghetto Klown and “Latin History for Idiots,” says he is pitching stories to Hollywood for over 30 years.

“I started to believe that maybe I didn’t know how to write, maybe I just couldn’t publish it, because all my stories were rejected,” he says. “And then I started to realize, ‘Oh my God, it’s because it was Latino content!’ They didn’t know what to do with it.

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