'In the Heights' young stars believe movie musical celebrates culture often underrepresented

HOLLYWOOD -- "In The Heights" was a hit off-Broadway in 2007. It moved to Broadway in 2008 and won the Tony Award for Best Musical. The movie version was filmed in 2019, but its release was delayed a full year by the pandemic. Now audiences are finally able to see Lin-Manuel Miranda's tribute to his neighborhood.

The film introduces us to the people in New York's Washington Heights, and shows the ups and downs, the joys and the struggles in this predominantly Latino neighborhood.

Young stars Gregory Diaz, Leslie Grace and Melissa Barrera feel the film is groundbreaking in terms of visibility and serves as a celebration of culture for audiences who are generally underrepresented in movies.

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"In the Heights" started as a Tony winning musical back in 2008... from the mind of "Hamilton" creator Lin Manuel Miranda. The story of how we all have 'El Sueñito', or a little dream... has been re-imagined for the big screen by "Crazy Rich Asians" director Jon M. Chu.

"Their stories are important. The specificity of your story, there's value in that. Lin bet on the specificity of this neighborhood, and the people that he knows. He never saw it on stage and he created it," said Grace. "I hope this makes people feel encouraged to tell their own story."

"I hope that no matter where you're from that you understand you should celebrate that. You should celebrate your ancestors, celebrate the journey that has taken you to the moment that you're at," said Barrera. "I hope anyone that is an immigrant feels like they wanna raise their flag up and celebrate!"

"Such a beautiful story that back in 2008 was able to open so many doors and now taking it to a whole other level, putting it on the big screen, will hopefully influence people out there the way it has for us,' said Diaz.

"In the Heights" is rated PG-13 and is in theaters now and available on HBO Max.

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It's a step in the right direction as we head into summer: the return of the red carpet! The Hollywood premiere of 'In the Heights' kicks off the Los Angeles Latino International Film Festival.

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