Girl in Progress: Director’s Cut

By: Ashmar Mandou

Lawndale News Chicago's Bilingual Newspaper - Local NewsIt’s not often you see an almost all Latino cast in a Hollywood movie, or Latinos portraying multi-dimensional characters. But in Director’s Patricia Riggen’s latest project, Girl in Progress, she hopes to bring more Latino actors to the forefront of Hollywood cinema. “As Latinos, we need to support Latino-based films,” said Riggen. “We need more movies out there that talk about our stories.”

She hopes Girl in Progress can do just that. In the film, Grace, played by Eva Mendes, is a single mom who juggles work, bills, and her affair with a married doctor, and often neglects her daughter Ansiedad in the process. Riggen believes this story is a true coming-of-age story that will resonate with women across the country. “Whether you are a mother or not, you can truly appreciate the struggles some of them endure to try and build a quality life for themselves and their family. And what better way to have this movie come out during Mother’s Day weekend,” laughed Riggen.

Attraction to Script
I made a movie called Under the Same Moon a few years ago, and it was about a Mexican mother and child. It was about first generation of immigrants. This story is about second and third generation Latinos. So basically it’s an American story now with our Latina lead, but it’s just a really universal theme, which is the relationship between moms and daughters. And the conflicts they face when they get into adolescents and how you resolve them. There is one thing that always attracts me in stories and it’s how human beings defeat their obstacles and join again as family and love. I like that.

Lawndale News Chicago's Bilingual Newspaper - Local NewsFlawed Characters
The character of Grace I really fell in love with because she is such a flawed character and that makes her a real human being. Because she is trying, she is trying to support her and her daughter and trying to make a good life. But then she is neglecting her role as a mother because, let’s face it, it can be tough being a single mom. And I realized throughout filming just how universal, I guess, the theme of the single mom is and the cycle of single moms. I realized how important it is to create this platform highlight and applaud their efforts.

Female Stories
This is a Hollywood movie with a Hollywood cast, but at the same time we don’t see movies about the important themes and about female themes very often. They are very rare and very difficult to get made. So I find them very special. I hope women come out on Mother’s Day weekend to go see it because if we support this theme and if it does really well, we can make more movies like this. We can make movies about themes that we care about as women. We need more quality movies that make you think and make you grow.

Girl in Progress will hit theaters on Friday, May 11. For more on the movies, visit

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