Lin-Manuel Miranda on Twitter announced additional cast members for the feature adaptation of his Tony-winning musical In The Heights from Crazy Rich Asians director Jon M. Chu. Joining Corey Hawkins, who was previously announced as Benny and Anthony Ramos, who plays Usnavi, is singer/songwriter Leslie Grace as Nina and Melissa Barrera as Vanessa.
Barrera plays Lyn on Starz’s Latinx series Vida, which airs its second season this May. She is repped by UTA, Cross Over Entertainment, and Jackoway Austen Tyerman Wertheimer Mandelbaum Morris Bernstein Trattner & Klein. Barrera studied at NYU before returning to her native Mexico to pursue an acting career, at which point she starred in several theater and television productions.
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Grace, who is repped by CAA, saw her self-titled album Leslie Grace (2013), hit number four on the Billboard Latin Albums chart, and number three on the Billboard Tropical Albums chart. She’s a three-time Latin Grammy nominee, with noms for the single “Como Duele el Silencio,” the album Lloviendo Estrellas, and her 2013 self-titled release.
In the original storyline, bodega owner Usnavi strikes it rich and plans to leave, until the pull of the Latino neighborhood and the people in it give him pause. Set in the Upper Manhattan neighborhood of Washington Heights, the plot revolves around Usnavi, a college student, a taxi driver, a beauty salon worker and an old woman who aspire to better lives as gentrification begins to take hold, and a sweltering summer power blackout brings their personal life crises to a head.
Vanessa is Usnavi’s love interest who works at Daniela’s salon. She is stunningly beautiful and catches the eye of every guy in the Heights, however, she takes interest in Usnavi. She lives with an alcoholic mother and dreams of getting out of the Barrio and getting an apartment downtown, but cannot yet afford it
Benny falls in love with Nina, who the neighborhood admires as “the one who made it out.” She enrolled in Stanford, but dropped out and returns home. Benny works for Nina’s father, Kevin, and dreams of opening his own business. However, Nina’s father refuses to accept Benny as Nina’s beau.
Miranda followed up with news that they already have their jazz shoes on:
Deadline exclusively broke the news about Warner Bros. winning the project as well as Hawkins joining the cast.
The screenplay for In the Heights is by Quiara Alegría Hudes based on the musical with music and lyrics by Miranda and book by Hudes. Both are producing alongside Scott Sanders, Anthony Bregman, and Mara Jacobs. Additional EPs on In the Heights are David Nicksay, Jill Furman, Kevin McCollum and Jeffrey Seller.
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