Breaking new ground in American film, again, director Patricia Riggen, known for critically-acclaimed La Misma Luna (Under the Same Moon, 2007), starring Kate Del Castillo and America Ferrara, brings another a heart-warming story to screen. This time, Riggen spotlights the timeless and complex mother-daughter dynamic.
An original and thoughtful rite of passage story Girl in Progress (Pantelion Films), depicts the ups and down of parent-daughter relationships. Girl in Progress shows some genuine challenges of American “Latinidad” including teen and single parenthood. It addresses that experience in later years, where mother, played by Eva Mendes, is providing, flourishing and independent. While still growing up herself, she ultimately wants her daughter to feel loved and provided for.
The true focus of “Girl” is break-out youth actress Cierra Ramirez who plays Mendes’ daughter, “Ansiedad” (Anxiety) and her clever pursuit of a rite of passage as dictated by American literature. Though, she gets in over her head in what begins as a game, Ansiedad is smart, cynical and mocks the typical American “geek to chic” story.
She’s a brainy Latina and Latinitas knows this will resonate with the hundreds of thousands of Latina girls in the U.S. starved for this kind of character in their entertainment.
Latinitas caught up with Ramirez about her role in Girl in Progress:
Where are you from and how did you get started in acting?
I’m originally from Houston, Texas, which is how I got my start! I had always loved to perform and after competing in many local singing competitions, I got the opportunity to compete in one located in LA. Which led to landing my agent and later booking this role.
What characters did you watch in TV and film growing up that inspired you? Were any Latina?
I really admire Angelina Jolie’s career. Not only does she take on the type of roles that one day I’d love to have the opportunity to do, but she’s a great person. She’s always willing to help others, and I think that’s important.
How do you describe your role in Girl In Progress to others?
I play Ansiedad, a 13-year old girl who feels neglected by her mother and seeks a rite of passage as a way to enter adulthood and leave her childhood behind, along with her mother.
What was your favorite part working on this film?
I really loved the learning experience. Everyone was so fun and easy to work with and I’ve made friends and
memories that will last a lifetime!
What did you know about your fellow cast members such as Eugenia Derbez, who is hugely popular in Mexico, before you started the film?
I was already familiar with Eugenio Derbez before filming Girl In Progress. Not only did my dad grow up watching him on Univision, I watched him in the film La Misma Luna in my Spanish class every year! The film was directed by the director of Girl In Progress, Patricia Riggen- which I thought was super cool!
What do you recommend to young Latinas out there navigating media and all the messages thrown at them about “what is Hispanic/Latina?
I would recommend to stay true to yourself and never forget where you come from. If it’s what you want, go out and get it, and don’t let anyone tell you that you can’t.
What is one crazy wish that you have?
If I told you, it wouldn’t come true