Last week, I had the chance to attend a press junket for the upcoming film “Girl in Progress” starring Eva Mendes, Cierra Ramirez, Raini Rodriguez, and the director Patricia Riggen.
When we got a chance to chat with Eva Mendes, she was so funny and so easy to talk to- and she was stunning. She was wearing like zero makeup and she looked amazing. When asked about playing a mom, she said that she has played mother’s before (as early as her Training Day role alongside Denzel Washington) but that she loved the role of Grace because “Grace was so flawed, so human, and such a mess. That’s attractive to me. I’m on the way to playing a real person – or closer to it anyway – than playing a one dimensional/ two dimensional character.”
When asked if she tried bonding with Cierra before filming, she said not really- but she did meet her. She felt that she needed to have that connection be more sisterly than motherly, so she didn’t want to take on a more maternal role . Whatever, they did, it worked because these two were giggling and joking throughout the interview like best friends.
Ansiedad is Cierra’s big breakout role, and very emotional and dramatic.
Being only 17, staying in high emotion must have been tough and when asked she stated that “in the dramatic scenes, I didn’t really like to get out of character. I didn’t really like talking to anyone during those dramatic scenes. I would just stay in the moment.” She also revealed she will be a new cast member on “The Secret Life of the American Teenager” which airs on ABC Family. She stated, she is “a new, pregnant girl (her character is a 6 month pregnant freshman) but she takes a different route than the other girls because she plans on putting her baby up for adoption.” Big role and lots of emotion will probably follow but after seeing Cierra’s performance in GIP, I know she will rock it.
Fellow Disney Channel alumni, Raini Rodriguez, who plays Tavita, Ansiedad’s best friend loved playing a role so real and that “you hear about it all the time. So to showcase that was pretty real. To be in that moment was real and overwhelming because you’re like, ‘So this is what they feel like – hitting rock bottom for people.’ I get how they feel. It was emotional filming a lot of those challenges. Hitting rock bottom, fighting with your best friend, and being bullied in front of the entire cafeteria. You hear about it but to actually portray it is something completely different. This is my first job. I’d never really experienced anything like that before. It was an honor to be able to portray it and come out of it in the end. I think she rises above it after her rock bottom. It was definitely difficult but I enjoyed it so much. Every moment of it. The screaming, the crying – I loved it! I was secretly happy on the inside.”
Director Patricia Riggen spoke of how she came to work on the film, which was a story written by Hiram Martinez “The script came and it was really clever. He had this idea of a coming-of-age story where a little girl stages her own coming-of-age. Hiram is a very clever writer with dialogue, so that was always there from the beginning. I loved the genre. I worked on bringing the well-rounded, female characters and also the heart into the movie. I think there’s enough bad stuff going out there – I liked to bring my characters to good places. When Eva came in it got greenlit. The studio found the right person to do it.”
She also stated the difficulties that she faced in that working with minors she really had to jam pack her filming days, “(…)six hour days! It was really like a 17 day movie. When you see it you can’t see that. Everybody worked very hard.” Also, she stated how “challenging to make a movie about females. We are still underrepresented in the studio system. So the decision makers are normally not women. They don’t really connect through these characters. They don’t understand there’s a huge audience out there that wants to see movies about women with issues that are real to women. With characters that are realistic – smart, hard-working, flawed, beautiful women. That’s always the first challenge to get a good budget. We worked under very strenuous circumstances.”
She revealed that the movie was shot in 22 days but even in her short time, she considered herself very much an “actor’s director” in that “I work very close in the screenwriting process to make real moments. Give characters real decisions. I do rehearsals. I’m always right there with them the entire time.”
Girl in Progress opens tomorrow in theaters everywhere.