A LATINA DIRECTOR THAT HAS ACHIEVED SUCCESS IN HOLLYWOOD: PATRICIA RIGGEN TALKS “GIRL IN PROGRESS”

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Director Patricia Riggen speaks at Disney ABC Television Group‘s TCA “Winter Press Tour” Panels at The Langham Hotel on January 10, 2011 in Pasadena, California. (January 9, 2011 – Source: Frederick M. Brown/Getty Images North America)

Director Patricia Riggen Talks “Girl In Progress”

Patricia Riggen is a rarity in Hollywood. She is one of the few Latina directors that has achieved success in an  industry dominated by white males. Riggen, who was born and raised in Mexico, on Friday will release her latest  movie “Girl in Progress,” starring Eva Mendes, a movie that she says was  difficult to get off the ground.

Movies with Latina leads are not something that this town is interested in,” Riggen said. “They don’t really make them, they’re hard to make.” “Girl in Progress” highlights a frayed relationship between a single mother  (Eva Mendes) and her teenage daughter (Cierra Ramírez.) “The movie is about her and her struggles as a young mom, as a young woman  herself trying to find her place,” Riggen explained.

Eva Mendes and Cierra Ramirez Talk “Girl In Progress”

In 2007, Riggen’s movie “Under the Same Moon,” starring Kate del Castillo,  was an international success, and she recently directed Disney Channel’s 2011  highly rated original film, “Lemonade Mouth.”

“Being a Mexican woman, it’s really hard because people don’t believe in  you,” Riggen told Fox News Latino. “Then you don’t believe in yourself, it’s a  whole psychological thing that we have but I think it’s changing.”

The director praised Mendes on being a strong Latina actress who fit the role  perfectly. “[She] did an amazing job,” Riggen said. “She had to have very specific  things, she was more like an American.” There was a short list of actresses considered for the lead role, but Mendes  was the ideal candidate, the director said. In this role, we see Mendes portraying a gritty, unpolished character that  Riggen said “is a real, beautiful, flawed human being.”
"Girl In Progress" director Patricia Riggen and Eva Mendes. (Pantelion Films/Bob Akester)

“Girl In Progress” director Patricia Riggen and Eva Mendes. (Pantelion Films/Bob Akester)

“It is a wonderful new side of Eva we haven’t seen,” said Riggen.
The difficulties between mother-daughter relationships are a universal story,  but Riggen hopes that the fact that the characters are Latino won’t dissuade the  general audience from seeing it. “There are two things we have right here,” she said. “It’s female and it’s  Latin, and if we show that we care about these movies they will get made more  often.” “Female directors will have more chances because it’s tough,” she added.

Writer/producer/director/actor Tyler Perry arrives at a screening of ‘Tyler Perry’s Madea’s Big Happy Family’ at the Cinerama Dome Theater in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Kevin Winter/Getty Images)

Riggen says that African-American moviegoers have achieved something that  Latinos should strive for. “The black audience has managed to create an industry for themselves,” Riggen  said. “They did it and it’s awesome and they now have the ability to have a  budget for their films and have a constant flow of films.” The director says it’s now the audience’s turn to go to the box office and  show that Latinos can open movies.

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EVA MENDES IS GIRL IN PROGRESS

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Grace (Eva Mendes) is a single mom. She is too busy juggling work, bills, and and relationships, to give her daughter, Ansiedad (Cierra Ramirez) the attention she desperately needs. When Ansiedad’s English teacher, Ms. Armstrong (Patricia Arquette), introduces her students to classic coming-of-age stories, Ansiedad is inspired to skip adolescence and jump-start her life without mom. While Grace becomes preoccupied with the increasing affections of her co-worker (Eugenio Derbez), Ansiedad enlists the help of her loyal friend, Tavita (Raini Rodriguez), to plot her shortcut to “adulthood”. But as her misguided plan unravels, Ansiedad and Grace must learn that sometimes growing-up means acting your age.

Dove Worldview:


Here is a movie which illustrates that change is possible for anyone who truly wants it. A teenager named Ansiedad lives with her mother Grace, and their relationship is a bit rocky, mainly due to the fact that Grace is having an affair with a married man, works as a waitress at a diner, and is hardly ever home. Yet Ansiedad’s love for her mother is clearly seen when she goes into her mom’s bedroom after Grace gets home late and she lovingly removes her shoes while she sleeps.


When Ansiedad hears her teacher mentioning “coming of age” and “rites of passage” in her class at school, she decides it is time she goes from being a very good student to a time of rebellion. She says, “Being a kid is stupid and I’m moving on.” However, she moves on with some very bad decisions. She sets her goals on hanging out with “bad girls”, ditching her overweight but kind best friend, ignoring her school work, drinking and “maybe” doing drugs. Lastly, she plans on losing her virginity. She even sets her eyes on the guy she wants it to happen with.


Obviously these are themes which are realistically handled in this film yet there is a strong change in the characters by movie’s end, including both Grace and Ansiedad, who “grow up” and form a bond. Without spoiling the ending, Ansiedad learns that being an adult means being responsible and Grace remembers her responsibilities as well. The redemptive theme is strong in this one.

Parents should watch this film with their kids and discuss the various decisions the characters make. Due to the sophisticated themes we are recommending this movie for ages twelve plus. “Girl in Progress” is a film you and your family will care about! And it should be utilized as a teaching tool in making decisions and dealing with consequences. This one is Dove “Family-Approved”. “Girl in Progress” is just that, a story about progress!

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