When Lin-Manuel Miranda’s In the Heights came out in 2008 it was praised for its representation of the Latinx community in Washington Heights but now, according to Miranda himself, that same story feels “radical” in 2019.
“I mean, there are things that were implicit then that are explicit now, like the way this wave of Latinx immigrants has to fight for their personhood,” he told Departures for their “Visionaries” series. “In this world, we are more demonized than we have ever been. This notion of, ‘We came from somewhere else and we’re trying to make the best of our lives here. We are just like you —t his, somehow, is a radical statement in 2019,”
Bottom line is Miranda believes it shouldn’t feel radical now. “It didn’t feel that radical in 2008 but it actually is, because there are so many who would say, ‘You don’t belong here. This country’s full,'” he added. “To see these characters joyously waving the flags of their home countries in New York City, it’s crazy that that’s a radical act. But it’s wonderful to put that on screen.”
In The Heights is currently filming in Manhattan’s Washington Heights neighborhood with Hamilton star Anthony Ramos and Melissa Barrera, who plays Lyn on the Starz hit Vida.
The #InTheHeightsMovie cry all week has been our neighbors.
Old and young,
hanging out windows, coming out with food, telling us stories about the block, thanking us,
All month it’s been
“You’re putting us Latinos on the map in a big way, papa, keep going.”
We’ll keep going.
— Lin-Manuel Miranda (@Lin_Manuel) July 12, 2019
The musical centers around Dominican bodega owner, Usnavi, and his relationships with people in the neighborhood including the elderly Abuela Claudia and his love interest, Vanessa. When it’s discovered that Abuela bought a winning lottery ticket, she announces she’s giving Usnavi a third so he can return to his homeland. In the end, he decides his home is now that neighborhood and begins to picture his life with Vanessa.
In the current political climate, it’s easy to see why Miranda considers this storyline “radical” — considering immigrants are being kept in cages and the Trump administration continues to push for a wall along the U.S.-Mexico border. The idea that an immigrant could feel at home and build a life in the U.S. is at odds with the state of immigration today as it’s become less about the American Dream and more about mere survival.
— Lin-Manuel Miranda (@Lin_Manuel) June 14, 2019
Later this year he’ll be adding to his long list of accolades since he’ll be presented with the Portrait of a Nation Prize from the Smithsonian National Portrait Gallery by former First Lady Michelle Obama. In the Heights will hit theaters on June 26, 2020.