Entertainment

We Finally Got A Peek At Lin-Manuel Miranda’s Casting Picks For ‘In The Heights’ The Play That Made Him Famous

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The film adaptation of Lin-Manuel Miranda’s Broadway hit “In the Heights” is scheduled to hit movie theaters in 2020. As expected, many are excited to see Miranda’s acclaimed play come to the big screen after many years of waiting. The musical is based on the lives of young Latino immigrants living in the Washington Heights neighborhood in New York City. The musical left its mark in 2008 by bringing a Tony award-winning play featuring hip-hop to Broadway.

The film has been in production for a few years and we are finally getting a look at who will be starring in the movie. Here’s who we know that will part of the highly anticipated production.

Anthony Ramos will be playing Usnavi de la Vega.

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Many might be familiar with Anthony Ramos for his role in Miranda’s other hit musical “Hamilton” and in last years “A Star Is Born.” So it’s no surprise that Ramos will be starring in another musical but this time as the lead role. He’ll be playing Usnavi de la Vega, the owner of a small bodega in Washington Heights. Ramos is of Puerto Rican descent and is engaged to Jasmine Cepha Jones, another “Hamilton” cast member.

Corey Hawkins is bringing Benny to life on the big screen.

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Corey Hawkins will be playing the role of Benny, Nina’s Father. Hawkin’s character is notable since it’s the only role that doesn’t speak Spanish in the production. Hawkins made his film debut portraying Dr. Dre in 2015’s “Straight Outta Compton” and will be returning to the big screen once again.

Sonny de la Vega will be played by Gregory Diaz.

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He might be just 14-year-old but Gregory Diaz but he’s already well-known on the musical stage. He made his Broadway debut in 2016 on “Matilda” to critical acclaim. He will now tackle the role of Sonny De La Vega, Usnavi’s witty younger cousin. We can expect great things from Diaz as we have already seen.

Melissa Barrera is giving us the Vanessa fans deserve.

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Melissa Barrera got her breakout role last year in the hit Starz show “Vida,” that is entering its second season. The Latina actress has also starred in various Mexican novellas but she might have landed her biggest role as Vanessa, Usnavi’s love interest. There’s no doubt Barrera was born to play this role and has the chops to do it justice.

Leslie Grace will be playing Nina Rosario.

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Leslie Grace, known for her singing career, is going to be transitioning to the big screen. She’ll be playing Nina Rosario, the first person in her family to go to college and returns home for the summer to let her family know she’s dropped out. Born to Dominican parents and raised in Bronx, New York, Grace was born to play this role and will surely a strong Hollywood debut.

Who else can play Kevin Rosario than Jimmy Smits.

Jimmy Smits will be playing the character of Kevin Rosario, Nina’s overprotective father. He most famously appeared in the “Star Wars” series in the 2000s and has a slew of TV roles. He’s the perfect role for this character and with a strong acting resume like Smits, he’s sure to nail it.

Daphne Rubin-Vega (Daniela)

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A veteran of the Broadway stage, Daphne Rubin-Vega will be playing Daniela, the energetic owner of a salon where the girls come to talk. Vega, who is of Panamanian descent, starred in the critically acclaimed musical “RENT’ and also the TV show “Smash.”

Stephanie Beatriz is giving us an energetic and exciting Carla.

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Stephanie Beatriz, currently starring in the hit show “Brooklyn Nine-Nine” will be playing the role of Carla, who works at Daniela’s salon. The character works alongside Vanessa and is of Chilean, Cuban, Dominican, and Puerto Rican descent. Beatriz, born in Argentina, has made a name for herself on the TV circuit with a role as Gloria in “Modern Family” as well.

Dascha Polanco is giving Cuca her own twist.

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Dascha Polanco starred in the Netflix series “Orange is the New Black” as Dayanara “Daya” Diaz. The role got her a lot of notoriety and now she’ll be making her big screen debut as Cuca. The Dominican-American actress is sure to light up the screen as she did on the Netflix series.

Who else could capture the essence of Abuela Claudia than Olga Merediz?

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Olga Merediz will be reprising the role of Abuela Claudia as she did on the Broadway stage. Born in Guantánamo, Cuba, Merediz has received a Tony award for her work on “In The Heights” and has a lengthy career in the entertainment industry. This includes roles in “Les Misérables” and in “Mamma Mia!”. We can’t wait for her to reprise this role and bring that character to the big screen next year.

READ: Watching Lin-Manuel Miranda’s Genius Bring ‘In The Heights’ To Broadway Is So Inspiring

The Director Of ‘Mi Vida Loca’ Ended Up Adopting Her Daughter From One Of The Movie’s Real Gang Members After She Died

Entertainment

The Director Of ‘Mi Vida Loca’ Ended Up Adopting Her Daughter From One Of The Movie’s Real Gang Members After She Died

“Mi Vida Loca” is a cult classic. Latinos love this movie and it’s a part of our pop culture legacy, but when “Mi Vida Loca” first premiered in 1993 it wasn’t seen in the light that we see it today. A lot of critics panned it. One critic said that while filmmaker Allison Anders mixed “real gang members with up-and-coming Latin American actresses,” the ploy failed “to lend the film authenticity or vitality. The tone seems, to put it kindly, misguidedly romantic.” Another said, “While the characters are colorful and vibrant, the film is strangely flat.” However, this independent film represented much more than it was. For Latinos, it wasn’t just a low budget movie, it was ourselves on the big screen. 

It was Latinos representing Latinos. It was our story and no critic could ever take that away. 

Director Allison Anders was inspired to create “Mi Vida Loca” after meeting her daughter’s Latina friends.

The basis for Sad Girl and Mousey is based on real people that Anders saw in her neighborhood. Her daughter informed her mom all about the novela that was taking place right outside her door. In a 1994 interview with Bomb magazine, Anders said, “I had seen these two 14-year-old girls with babies on their hips, yelling at each other. So finally I said, ‘Devan [her daughter], what’s up with these girls?’ And Devan, who was nine years old at the time said, ‘Well, Christine and Marty were best friends since elementary school. Then Christine had a baby by Ernesto. But then Marty had a baby by Ernesto. And now they don’t get along.” And that is how the story of how Sad Girl and Mousey was born.

Anders said they filmed in Echo Park, which is where she lived too, right as the gentrification of the area was taking place. 

That meant she had to make sure everyone on the set was safe because real gang members lived there as well. Anders said the real gang members she met as inspiration for “Mi Vida Loca” were actually part of a gang that didn’t reside in Echo Park, but a neighborhood nearby. That tension of real actors and real gang members shooting a film in gang territory caused for some interesting days on the set. 

“I was very concerned however with keeping the real gang members in the cast and crew safe,” Anders said in an interview with Screen Slate. “So my producers and I involved the Echo Park members every step of the way to know which neighborhoods were safe for us to shoot in. We literally took them in the car location scouting to check out the safety. Sometimes the borders were block to block: “We can shoot down here—but not across the street.”

While some had issues that a white woman was directing a movie about Latina gang members, Anders said she got the dialogue approved by Latinas on the set.

Anders said that real gang members “approved every single draft of the script, and after a while could pitch it and give notes better than anyone I’ve met since, seriously.” She added that each person that was consulted on the film was paid and credited. “We even kept the money in the neighborhood literally – the art department rented set dressing from their homes – which also gave a sense of pride that a movie company was renting some banner they made for their bedroom to put on film. We rented the homes of the parents and grandparents of the Echo Park locas and locos. Make-up purchased the real stuff the actual girls wore from Woolworth’s on Sunset Blvd.”

Here’s one remarkable story about how Anders adopted the child of one of a Latina gang member that died before the release of the film. 

Anders said that Nica Rogers, a member of the Echo Park gang, died of an overdose at the age of 19. She was in a few scenes in the movie as well. Rogers had a son named Rueben who was left orphaned after the death of his mother, so Anders adopted him. He is now 28-years-old, married with his family and living in Texas. He is also working in the Hollywood industry. Anders also started a Nica Rogers scholarship that would benefit the youth in Echo Park. It’s so amazing to see this movie live on in not just on the screen but in people’s lives too. 

READ: Mousie And Sad Girl From “Mi Vida Loca” Are Ultimate #Friendshipgoals

Christian Navarro Allegedly Deleted Tweets That Called Disney Out For Saying They Wanted To Cast ‘European’ Prince Eric

Entertainment

Christian Navarro Allegedly Deleted Tweets That Called Disney Out For Saying They Wanted To Cast ‘European’ Prince Eric

Earlier this summer in July, Disney announced its decision to cast Halle Bailey from Chloe x Halle to play princess Ariel in their live-action remake of The Little Mermaid. Variety reported that although director Rob Marshall had spent a couple of months meeting with potential princess Ariel’s, the R&B singer Halle Bailey was the clear choice for the role of Ariel since the start. And while buzz from just a few weeks ago about a Latino prince had us pumped… 

It turns out Disney is still looking for their Prince Eric. And they want him a little more “European.”

From singer Harry Styles to now 13 Reasons Why actor Christian Navarro, there’s been a lot of rumors going on about who will play Prince Eric in the live-action adaption of Disney’s The Little Mermaid. 

Earlier in August, Navarro tweeted that he had heard Harry Styles pass on the Prince Eric role, so he threw his name in the hat so Disney could have its first “Latino Prince” alongside its first “Black Ariel.” 

After much support from his fans and after campaigning for about a month on Twitter to be the next Prince Eric, Navarro tweeted on September 3 that Disney had seen his tweet and gave his team a call. 

People on Twitter were quick to show their support of the actor and one fan told him, “you’re going to kill this audition! Hoping you’ll represent us in the Latinx community as becoming the first Latino Disney Prince. If not, at least you put yourself out there!” 

“They wanted to see what I could do,” the 13 Reasons Why actor wrote in his tweet. “Tapes sent. Fingers crossed. Let’s make some history.” 

But on Wednesday, according to Daily Mail, Navarro claimed that he was not cast as Prince Eric in the upcoming live-action adaption of The Little Mermaid because allegedly Disney wanted someone more “European” for the role. 

Yesterday, the New York-born and Puerto Rican actor, broke the news to fans that he had actually been turned down for the role. 

According to Daily Mail, Navarro wrote in a tweet along with an eye-roll emoji that, “Disney said no. They’d like someone more ‘European.’ And we know what that means. In good times be grateful. In bad times be graceful.”

However, the tweets in question don’t seem to still be posted on his Twitter account. Navarro has seemingly deleted them without explanation. 

Daily Mail further reports that although the actor didn’t explicitly mention The Little Mermaid live-action remake in any of his tweets, but fans were quick to assume that he was referring to Disney’s film. The publication has also reached out to Disney for further comment on Navarro’s claim about them wanting to go for someone more “European” looking.

Navarro’s tweet detailing the rejection received more than 2,500 likes in the first three hours that it was posted and according to Daily Mail, fans reactions ranged from supportive to outraged. 

One fan tweeted to Navarro that they were “disappointed.” 

“It’s their loss cause you’d have made a brilliant prince Eric without a doubt. I’m sure you’ll get better roles to play!!,” the fan added. 

It’s safe to say that we’re not necessarily surprised if Navarro’s claim were true since many people had a lot to say when Halle Bailey was cast as The Little Mermaid‘s Ariel.

 People on social media were quick to express their unsolicited (and racist) comments about Ariel being cast as Ariel. Disney’s decision was met with backlash as people objected to a black woman being cast as Ariel using the hashtag #NotMyAriel. 

But who cares what the haters say, right?

For many young women who have yet to see themselves rightfully represented in media, Disney’s decision is significant and a small step toward accurate representation. 

The Little Mermaid live-action adaptation will incorporate original songs from the OG animated film as well as new songs from original composer Alan Menken with lyrics by “Hamilton” creator Lin-Manual Miranda, Variety reports. Miranda is also part of the production team for the film.  

The film’s cast also includes Jacob Tremblay as Flounder, Awkwafina as Scuttle, Javier Bardem as King Triton and Melissa McCarthy as Ursula (a role that rapper Lizzo and “Truth Hurts” singer hinted at wanting as well). 

Production for Disney’s live-action remake of The Little Mermaid is set to begin in early 2020, but who knows if they’ll stay on the timeline when they have yet to fill the leading male role.  

Ultimately, we hope that this doesn’t dissuade Navarro from pursuing other roles that he wouldn’t normally go after because we need more actors like him representing the community.