Entertainment

[VIDEO] Watch The Moment High School Students A NYC School Nerd Out And Lose Their Cool When Lin-Manuel Showed Up For Their Play

@jonmchu / Twitter

As you may have heard, there’s an “In The Heights” movie in the works. The production, produced by Lin-Manuel Miranda and directed by Jon M. Chu, will start shooting later this summer. While they have their main cast in place, they just had a casting call for extras. They specifically said they were looking for Latinos and would be in Washington Heights for the open call. Since they were in the area for the casting call, which is where the movie will be shot as well, the movie’s VIP crew had some time to check in on another important group.

Lin-Manuel Miranda stopped by during a school production of “In The Heights” at George Washington High School in New York and surprised the cast.

Twitter/@dancerrubi1414

“We saw In The Heights in the Heights for the first time, with kids from all over the neighborhood,” Miranda tweeted. “It’s cool I only cried 10 times. These kids were so good. Our future is so bright.”

Jon M. Chu, director of “Crazy Rich Asians,” tweeted the moment when Miranda stepped onstage.

Some of the students were clearly surprised to see Miranda there, although not everyone, and we think we know why. If you watch the clip, Chu shoots the entire audience as well as the cast on stage. There were a lot of special guests in the audience, one of them being Luis A. Miranda, Jr., Lin’s dad. So, we’re not sure how much of this surprise was kept under wraps.

Other special guests included Quiara Alegría Hudes, who wrote the screenplay for the new “In The Heights” movie.

We’re wondering if some of the students will be cast in the new movie. Why not? They need extras and clearly, these kids know a thing or two about the story. Might as well give a chance.

We also loved seeing all the selfies of Miranda with all of the students.

“Love working with you guys. #intheheights #intheheightsmusical,” Rubi Camila Perez Guzman shared on Instagram.

This kind of happiness is the best.

“Words cannot describe how thankful I am to be part of the show In The Heights,” Rebecca said on her social media page. “I got the opportunity to be part of a group of greats actors that are my family now. We worked for almost 4 months on this project and it was all worth it at the end to give this surprise to Lin Manuel Miranda. May 31 will be a night that I’ll never forget.”

What a spectacular night for Miranda, the cast of “In the Heights,” and the students.

“Had such an amazing time working with these amazing talented people,” Alexia Stewart posted on Instagram. “Thank you guys soooo much for accepting me into your family at such short notice. I love you all and I can’t wait till next year when I see you guys again.”

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

An Incoming International Harvard Student Has Been Denied Entry To The United States

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An Incoming International Harvard Student Has Been Denied Entry To The United States

Cengiz Yar / Getty Images

The Trump administration’s immigration policies are criminalizing survivors, tearing families apart and emboldening racists and xenophobes throughout the country. But President Donald Trump’s anti-immigration agenda is also negatively impacting higher education in the US. According to multiple recent reports, it has become increasingly difficult for international students to receive their visas, also adding a greater workload on universities and their employees who try to help students work through the red tape and advocate on their behalf.

Those in higher education and immigration law say that the process for international students to attain their visas have become harder under Trump.

 According to government data, approval of student visas is down and many remain in limbo for longer periods. The latest available department data show that student visas declined by more than 100 thousand from 2016 to 2018. This has led to an overall decrease in the number of new international students enrolled at US colleges. For instance, survey data collected by the Institute of International Education during the 2016–17 school year found that enrollment of international students fell by 3 percent from the previous year. In the most recent data, which looks at the 2017–18 school year, it fell by close to 7 percent.

NAFSA: Association of International Educators reports that these visa obstacles started after Trump issued a memorandum in 2017 that called for the “heightened screening and vetting of applications for visas and other immigration benefits” as well as new or updated requirements for visa holders studying or working at US colleges. Additionally, the Atlantic reports that changes initiated by the Trump administration in 2018 made it even harder for recent graduates with student visas to continue living in the country legally. 

“I’ve been in the field for almost 20 years, and the amount of immigration changes during the last three years has been exponential,” Kristy Magner, who oversees Tulane University’s Office of International Students and Scholars, told the publication. 

One of the most high-profile cases was that of Ismail B. Ajjawi

In August of 2019, the incoming Harvard Palestinian freshman from Lebanon was detained by US Customs and Border Protection (CBP) at a Boston airport. The 17-year-old was denied entry after CBO officers found social media posts from his friends that criticize the US. As a result, Ajjawi’s visa was canceled. However, because the teen was detained at an airport, sparing him from being officially deported, he was able to re-apply for a visa back home. Ten days later, Ajjawi returned to Boston and was able to start school.

Also in August, nine Chinese students who were returning to the US as undergraduate students at Arizona State University were detained at Los Angeles International Airport.

 According to the university, the students were in CBP custody for a week and were “denied admission to the U.S. to continue their studies.” They were ultimately forced to return to China, despite being “academically eligible to return to ASU and to the United States under their visas.”

“[I]t is beyond my comprehension how the U.S. government could establish and implement policies that bring about the outcomes we are now witnessing,” ASU president Michael Crow wrote in a letter addressed to Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and Acting Homeland Security Secretary Kevin McAleenan. 

While these cases are among the most extreme, they follow a growing pattern of increased difficulty for international students. 

Many institutions, including New York University, expressed seeing more students denied travel in advance of their trips.

NYU was one of the first schools to establish support for immigrant students upon the start of Trump’s presidency. In January 2017, just days after Trump’s inauguration, it created the Immigrant Defense Initiative, which offers “free, confidential advice and representation” to students and staff who could be at risk for deportation. Other universities, including Columbia University, the California State University system and George Washington University, now also offer free immigration-related legal services for students. 

But students, and now university employees who are tasked with new responsibilities in helping the international academics, need more help. Back in July, Harvard University president Lawrence Bacow sent a letter to Pompeo and McAleenan sharing his grievances. “Students report difficulties getting initial visas — from delays to denials,” he wrote. “Scholars have experienced postponements and disruptions for what have previously been routine immigra­tion processes such as family visas, renewals of status, or clearance for international travel.”

Dr. Hironao Okahana, associate vice president of policy and research analysis at the Council of Graduate Schools, told Teen Vogue the rise in incidents like Ajjawi’s are concerning and worth further investigation. 

“[W]e’ll be carefully observing to see if any additional incidents occur as quarter-system schools begin their term in a few weeks,” he said.

In addition to the denial of visas and slowed-down processes, universities face another problem: Trump’s anti-immigration agenda is stopping international students from applying to US institutions. 

“I think that both [the Trump administration’s] immigration policy and the messaging of the day are literally turning [international] students away … and making them less inclined to want to study in the United States,” Brian Rosenberg, the president of Macalester College, a liberal-arts institution in St. Paul, Minnesota, told the Atlantic.

As a result, some schools are doing additional work to ensure international students that they are welcome at their universities.

Philip A. Glotzbach, the president of Skidmore College, told the Atlantic that his staff has had to “work a lot harder” to recruit and retain international students. Additionally, Barbara K. Altmann, the president of Franklin & Marshall College, said that her school has been taking “extraordinary measures … so international students know [they’re welcome here].” For instance, because one in five students at the Lancaster, Pennsylvania, liberal-arts school is from outside of the US, mostly China, it has created a network of Chinese nationals that send reassuring messages to incoming students from the Asian country. 

“These incidents,” said Okahana, “as isolated as they may be, are troubling and have created chilling effects.”

Read: Migrants Are Dying In US Immigration Custody And Here’s What You Need To Know About The Victims

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