Melissa Barrera addresses ‘In The Heights’ box office disappointment: “I did take it very personally”

"It wasn’t a great time, but it taught me a lot about the industry"

Melissa Barrera has spoken out about In The Heights‘ disappointing performance at the box office, admitting she “took it personally”.

Released in 2021, the movie-musical version of Lin-Manuel Miranda’s hit Broadway show was Barrera’s first major film. She starred as lead character Vanessa, the love interest Usnavi (Anthony Ramos) who works at Daniela’s salon.

The big screen adaptation was well-received by critics, but suffered at the box office due to the COVID-19 pandemic, when people weren’t going to theatres. While Barrera conceded that such circumstances were beyond her control, it still took its toll on her.


“At the time, I did take it very personally,” she told NME. “I don’t anymore. But it was my first big movie, everybody was saying it was going to be this huge hit, and it meant a lot to have a big studio movie with an all-people-of-colour cast.

“The reviews were great, and the movie was fantastic – I’m proud of it – but then it didn’t do well because of COVID and it was released simultaneously on HBO Max when people weren’t going to theatres. There were so many things that were out of my control.”

In the Heights
Anthony Ramos and Melissa Barrera in ‘In The Heights’ (Credit: Warner Bros)

She continued: “It wasn’t a great time. But I wouldn’t change it because it taught me a lot about the industry. If it had come out and become this huge hit and I had skyrocketed and become a global superstar, I don’t know if I would understand the industry so well.

“There are so many things that I have no power over, so I learned the valuable lesson that I can’t let that stain or dampen my experience of making a film. The only thing that matters is whether I’ve had a good time and I’m proud of what I’ve made, and whether I’ve made lasting relationships out of it.”

Elsewhere in the interview, Barrera discussed her star role in the Scream franchise, as well as her upcoming movie Carmen. You can read the full feature here.

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