Within the Heights is not only a musical, it is a motion. It is displaying the world that Latinx tales are immensely essential and value telling. Starring Anthony Ramos, Melissa Barrera, and Lin-Manuel Miranda, the solid is sort of completely made up of Latinx actors and their roles aren’t stereotyped as maids or gardeners. As a Latina myself, it is not solely refreshing to see actors that appear to be my household and pals on display screen, however it’s an extremely essential element of genuine storytelling.
Aside from Selena: The Collection, it has been a really very long time since I’ve watched a present or film the place I’ve actually felt seen. I laughed in any respect the characters’ jokes, I instantly acknowledged the Maizena and Café Bustelo within the bodega, I danced together with the music, I understood once they spoke Spanish, and I virtually felt as if Abuela Claudia (Olga Merediz) was my very own grandmother giving me recommendation. Seeing the idiosyncrasies of Latinx tradition being proven in such a constructive mild gave me an immense sense of satisfaction and pleasure. It felt like residence.
“All of us deserve and anticipate equal illustration.”
Whereas Within the Heights is centered round New York’s Washington Heights neighborhood, the struggles the characters face are centered across the similar themes that loads of Latinx neighborhood offers with throughout the US: household, gentrification, and immigration. Nina Rosario’s storyline hit me the toughest. Nina is a first-generation faculty pupil who’s struggling to slot in at Stanford College. Throughout a dialog with Abuela Claudia, she opens up about feeling remoted and never having a way of neighborhood in school whereas trying to stay as much as her father’s expectations. Nina later reveals that she was searched throughout shifting day at Stanford after her roommate misplaced her pearl necklace.
As I listened to Nina inform her story, I out of the blue discovered myself in tears flooded with reminiscences from my very own faculty expertise. Just like her, I too was the primary in my household to go to varsity, so I do know the unstated pressures that include that. I do know what it is like to go searching a room and see no person else that appears such as you. I do know what’s it wish to be by yourself and wrestle with attempting to make your dad and mom proud whereas additionally feeling such as you’re invisible and consistently questioning whether or not you really belong. To be trustworthy, these emotions have by no means totally gone away, however as Abuela Claudia mentioned, we’ve got to say our dignity in small methods to point out the world that we’re not invisible and that is what I plan to proceed to do.
Although the movie is the primary time in a very long time that I’ve felt seen, the identical cannot be mentioned for the whole Latinx neighborhood. Leslie Grace, Dascha Polanco, and Daphne Rubin-Vega’s appearances make up the few occasions Black Latinx actors are featured onscreen. Grace performs the position of Nina, whereas Rubin-Vegas takes on the supporting position of Daniela, the proprietor of a neighborhood salon, the place Polanco’s character, Cuca, works. Other than Nina’s story, we by no means get the prospect to dive into the lives of Daniela and Cuca.
Whereas there are just a few Black Latinx actors featured within the solid, it will have been way more impactful in the event that they had been solid as leads; the primary characters are principally a bunch of light-skinned Latinx actors. To not point out, the shortage of Black illustration — in a film that’s based mostly on a neighborhood that’s predominantly Black Latinx — is very blaring. Given the massive cultural affect of this movie, I want the Latinx individuals who weren’t represented had had the identical expertise I did, as a result of all of us deserve and anticipate equal illustration.