What is Leslie Grace's ethnicity? Celebrating In The Heights' hispanic origins

Olivia Olphin June 11, 2021

We can’t wait to see the hotly anticipated In The Heights movie in cinemas. The film has been widely released in the US today and fans are loving the upbeat and heartfelt musical written by Lin Manuel Miranda and Quiara Alegría Hudes. However, many fans are wondering about the ethnicity of star Leslie Grace, who plays Nina. We take a look at the diverse hispanic community of In The Heights.

What is In The Heights star Leslie Grace’s ethnicity?

Leslie Grace is not just an actor, she is also an accomplished singer-songwriter. Her songs Duro Y Suave and Lo Siento have 240 million and 38 million streams on Spotify.

Playing Nina in In The Heights is her first big film or acting part. What a role to start with!

Leslie Grace’s ethnicity is Dominican. She was born to Dominican parents but her nationality is officially American as she was born in The Bronx, New York City, on 7 January 1995.

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Just like Daniela in the film, her mother used to run her own salon in New York City.

However, Leslie Grace identifies as Afro-Latina and grew up mostly in Davie, Florida. She recently made the decision to leave her family home and move across the country to LA, just as Nina leaves her family in In The Heights.

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She has said before that she has felt at odds with her own heritage in a similar way to her character: “In so many parts of my life I’ve felt that – not being Latina enough, not being American enough, being first-generation the same way that Nina is. So a lot of the themes in Nina’s character I really related to.”

Leslie Grace’s height is thought to be about 5ft 6in and she is reported to have a net worth of about $5 million.

The diverse cast and characters of In The Heights

The whole of In The Heights is a celebration of the Latino and Hispanic communities living in Washington Heights in New York, but also as a representation of the Latino communities all across America.

Leslie Grace told the Independent: “We knew this was the biggest job that we’ve ever heard of for a Latino leading cast to tell the story and tell it in all of its brilliance and splendour, and also do good on the neighbourhood that Lin loves so much.”

The cast itself is incredibly diverse. Lead actor Anthony Ramos has Puerto Rican heritage, Jimmy Smits is from Suriname and Puerto Rico, Stephanie Beatriz is Colombian and Bolivian, and Melissa Barrera is Mexican.

In The Heights depicts a diverse and vibrant Latino culture without slipping into the stereotypical. In the movie and the musical we see the hard-working people of the Washington Heights neighbourhood. These are people simply trying to make their community a better place.

The main character, Usnavi, is constantly looking to return to his home country of the Dominican Republic. The music of the musical itself is a mixture of English and Spanish.

The original Broadway musical won four Tony awards after it premiered in 2008.

Who is her character, Nina Rosario?

Leslie Grace plays Nina Rosario, the daughter of Kevin Rosario who owns the local cab company.

She has been studying in her first year at Stamford, but she has had to drop out due to stress and financial issues. However, she is yet to tell any of her family!

Lin Manuel has often stated that Nina represents the experience of a first-generation college student, with all the pressures that accompany that.

Leslie Grace has said about her character: ‘I think we all felt like Nina – she doesn’t want to let anybody down.”

Nina also has some of the most incredible songs of the show, such as Breathe and Sunrise. She also has a heartfelt romance with Benny, who works at her father’s dispatch.

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We can’t wait to hear our favourite In The Heights songs in the cinema soon!

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Olivia Olphin is an English Literature graduate and a film and literature fanatic. She has many years of reviewing experience, recently working as accredited press for the London Film Festival. She has also written widely about culture and sex education, as well as LGBTQ+ and women's issues.