Mexican actress Melissa Barrera, who plays Vanessa, touched on the subject as well and commented on the casting decisions.
“In the audition process, which was a long audition process, there were a lot of Afro-Latinos there. A lot of darker-skinned people. And I think they were looking for just the right people for the roles,” she told Felice, adding, “And because the cast ended up being us, and Washington Heights is a melting pot of Black and Latinx people, Jon and Lin wanted the dancers and the big numbers to feel very truthful to what the community looks like.”
Additionally, Leslie, who is Dominican-American and plays Nina, opened up about what it meant for her to star in the film.
“I didn’t realize until making this movie that I didn’t really get to see myself or people that looked like my siblings, that are darker than me, onscreen,” she shared. “And I didn’t realize how much that affected the limitations that I put on myself—being someone who wanted to be an artist, an actress and even be in the Latin music industry being Afro-Latina.”
“I feel so blessed that we get to express the diversity that is within the Latinx community in a way that we haven’t been able to see onscreen,” she added. “I hope that this is cracking that glass ceiling. Because I do hope to see my brothers and sisters that are darker than me lead these movies.”
E! News previously reached out to reps for the cast members interviewed by The Root, as well as Jon and Warner Bros. Studios for comment. We haven’t received a response.