‘In the Heights’ and Reframing Hollywood Roles

Tuesday, June 22, 2021
in the heights

Scene from "In the Heights." | Warner Bros. Pictures

Reframing Hollywood Roles

Blockbuster films delayed by the pandemic are now hitting the big screen. Among the first of the summer season is “In the Heights,” which opened recently in theaters and streams on HBO Max. As Jeffrey Brown reports, the modern-day musical with a Latino cast set in a Manhattan neighborhood has high ambitions of shaking up Hollywood and beyond. Read the summary, watch the video and answer the discussion questions below. To read the transcript of the video above, click here.

Scroll down to the "Dig Deeper" section to read more about the controvery surrounding the film.



Discussion Questions

  • Who wrote, “In the Heights”?
  • Why is “In the Heights” different from other blockbusters, according to this piece?
  • What is the premise of “In the Heights”?
  • When did the original play come out?
  • Where is “In the Heights” based?
  • How does “In the Heights” represent Latinx populations and cultures?

Focus Questions

  1. How does the piece describe the current state of Latinx representation in Hollywood? In what ways does “In the Heights” defy this?
  2. What is the importance of diverse representation in Hollywood? Think about how you identify — is your race, culture, or ethnicity represented in Hollywood? How might lack of representation affect marginalized groups?

Media Literacy: What are the different forms of media that this segment uses? Why do you think they included each of them? How did they aid you in your understanding? 

Dig Deeper



  • For a deeper historical background of Washington Heights, NY, see this article.


Republished with permission from PBS NewsHour Extra.