Rita Moreno Backtracks on 'Dismissive' Comments About Afro-Latinx Representation Onscreen, Says She's 'Disappointed' in Herself

The EGOT legend faced major blowback after comments made on 'The Late Show' in defense of Lin-Manuel Miranda and 'In the Heights' casting.

Rita Moreno speaks during the Rita Moreno Puerto Rican Day Parade Celebration during the 2021 Tribeca Festival on June 13, 2021 in New York City.
Rita Moreno speaks during the Rita Moreno Puerto Rican Day Parade Celebration during the 2021 Tribeca Festival on June 13, 2021 in New York City.
Photo: John Lamparski (Getty Images)

“See, you CAN teach this old dog new tricks,” says Rita Moreno, after becoming a trending topic throughout Wednesday for comments made during a Tuesday night appearance on The Late Show with Stephen Colbert. Now she’s apparently rethinking her stance, and acknowledging that her words were “dismissive.”


As reported by The Root, Moreno’s comments were made in response to the colorism conversation surrounding the film adaptation of In the Heights, which was prompted by The Root’s own Felice Léon. Expressing that she was “really upset” at criticism leveled at Lin-Manuel Miranda, who created the Broadway musical upon which the film is based and had already issued his own apology for the absence of darker-skinned Afro-Latinx talent among the film’s leads, Moreno told Colbert “You can never do right, it seems.”

“This is the man who literally has brought Latino-ness and Puerto Rican-ness to America,” she added. “Lin-Manuel has done that really single-handedly.”

“I’m simply saying, ‘Can’t you just wait a while and leave it alone?’” she continued, later adding. “This is how it is. It would be so nice if they hadn’t come up with that and left it alone, just for now. They’re really attacking the wrong person.”

On Wednesday night, the EGOT icon found herself issuing a multi-tweet mea culpa of her own, stating that she is “disappointed” in herself.

I’m incredibly disappointed with myself. While making a statement in defense of Lin-Manuel Miranda on the Colbert Show last night, I was clearly dismissive of Black lives that matter in our Latin community. It is so easy to forget how celebration for some is lament for others.

In addition to applauding Lin for his wonderful movie version of In The Heights, let me add my appreciation for his sensitivity and resolve to be more inclusive of the Afro-Latino community going forward.

See, you CAN teach this old dog new tricks - RITA

The humility was appreciated by some on social media, while others met the backtracking of her original statement with equal dismissiveness. Notably, the 89-year-old Moreno has two projects hitting the big screen herself: the revealing Miranda-produced documentary, Rita Moreno: Just a Girl Who Decided to Go for It, which premiered at the Tribeca Film Festival this week, and the upcoming reboot of West Side Story. As many have noted, Moreno has often complained about being forced to wear “brownface” to represent Puerto Rican heritage for the original version. The role earned her an Oscar.


The Thugnificent Pangaean

1. It’s humbling to see an acting legend admitting she still has stuff to learn.

2. It’s laughable to know that the first three comments in the article are angry racists protesting afro-latinxs wanting representation.

3. It warms my heart to know that the same angry racists are driving up Maiysha’s clicks in the Kinja ad revenue model, making her a more profitable and bankable blogger.

*smacks lips* Damn those tears are good.