Cierra Ramirez – The Fosters (TV)

August 2, 2013 by  
Filed under Chaléwood, Interviews

In the ABC Family series “The Fosters,” Latina actress Cierra Ramirez (“Girl in Progress”) stars as Mariana Foster, a 15-year-old girl adopted and raised by an interracial, lesbian couple. In its first season, the program, which is produced by Jennifer Lopez, has received backlash from conservative groups like One Million Moms. The group says “The Fosters” is attempting to “redefine marriage and family by having two moms raise…children together.” During an interview with me, Ramirez discussed how a show like “The Fosters” could help individuals change their minds on topics like same-sex marriage, and what she thinks about groups like One Million Moms trying to boycott the series.

Can you tell me a little bit about the reactions you’ve been getting from people about the themes of the show?  What kind of things have you been hearing, positive or negative?

The biggest reward I usually love as an actress is getting feedback and seeing different audience members relate to the character or the plot or anything like that. Thankfully, everyone has been so positive.  People have found this very relatable and universal. It’s really fun to hear lots of peoples’ stories and seeing how they can just interact with the show. It’s been a blessing.

Do you think a show like this can make people change their minds on the topic of same-sex marriage if they are against it?

I definitely do think that it could. It’s about time a show like this [is] on the air. There’s never been anything like it and it’s about time. It has perfect timing with everything that’s going on in the world and with Prop 8 and stuff like that. I think it can help people become a little bit more open to the idea of it, to same sex marriage, and the idea that families being raised in certain households like that do turn out all right.

How do you define “family” in this day and age?

This show, in particular, definitely goes along with the ABC Family slogan, “A New Kind of Family.” And that’s definitely what I think it is. But family for me is someone, or it could be anyone;  you don’t have to be related to them, just like in the show, but it’s someone or a group of people that will accept you no matter what, through thick and thin and will always be there for you and love you unconditionally.

The ultra-conservative group One Million Moms has boycotted the show because they consider it “anti-family” since there are two moms raising the kids. What are conservative groups who don’t watch the show not understanding?

I definitely think it’s just the openness. They need to have more of an open mind to something that’s such a big deal right now. It’s the biggest thing in the world right now.  It’s a big issue and it needs to be more open. That’s what I love about this project.  I’m hoping that it can get through to lots of different families and it can become a better issue.

The last time I interviewed you was for your role in the film “Girl in Progress.” What kind of film roles are you looking for now or what do you hope comes across your table in the next couple of years?

The roles I’m definitely looking for are generally the roles have been in. I’ve gone into different roles with the same mindset. I’ve loved taking on roles that have a very universal message that lots of people can identify and relate to – and at the end of the day can get people talking. I’m actually a very dark person so I really want to get into some really dark roles, maybe some thrillers. I’ve never done one of those, so I think I’d really want to get into that, but definitely something that would get lots of people talking.

As a young Latina in the industry, what do you think of a show that comes along like “Devious Maids” that portrays Latinas in that light?

I usually try to get into roles that are very universal. I try to stay away from those stereotypes, mainly because I just feel like every role that comes my way is a gardener’s daughter or something like that.  But, it’s just the way you make it. With “Girl in Progress” you saw, my mother was a struggling teen mother, who was struggling with two different jobs. She was a maid and she was working in a restaurant as a waitress. So, I mean it really just depends. I’m for them. I just try to stay away from them. I don’t really care for stereotypes.

Cierra Ramirez – Girl in Progress

May 11, 2012 by  
Filed under Chaléwood, Interviews

The audition for her first feature film may not have been a typical one by Hollywood standards, but actress Cierra Ramírez is thankful for the way it all turned out.

“I actually put my audition on tape and sent it to [director] Patricia [Riggen],” Ramírez, 17, told me during an interview. “It was a little intimidating, but thankfully she liked me.”

Not only did Riggen like Ramírez, she cast her in the lead role of “Girl in Progress,” the follow up to Riggen’s 2007 film “Under the Same Moon.” In the film, Ramírez plays Ansiedad, a frustrated teenager who decides she will create her own coming-of-age story so she can fast forward her adolescence and become an adult.

During our interview, Ramírez talked about whether she has gone through her own rebellious phase as a teenager and how actress Eva Mendes, who plays her mother in the film, helped her through the acting process. “Girl in Progress” opens at theaters May 11.

Since you’re around the same age as your character Ansiedad, have you gone though any of the same things she has? Were you able to relate to her?

Well, I definitely related to the character in a sense that I, too, am a girl in progress. I’m still trying to find myself and my coming-of-age story. But Ansiedad is in a very big rush to grow up. That’s very unlike me because I am really trying to enjoy my teenage years. I’m trying to take it slow and not rush into anything.

Did you ever put your parents through the same rebellious phase Ansiedad puts her mom through?

(Laughs) Definitely not. I’m not as rebellious as her. I’m thankful I don’t have parents that I feel I need to get their attention. They’ve always been there for me.

What was your experience working with Eva Mendes?

I was a little nervous going into the film because she is so well known. But she made me feel right at home and treated me as her equal. She helped me through the process of becoming this character. What helped me a lot is that she’s the type of actress that likes to stay in character throughout filming. We really had fun on the set because her character is very childish. She was a really great friend.

Something the film explains are these rites of passage a teenager must go through before becoming an adult. Have you experienced a rite of passage yet? Did you have a quinceñera, maybe?

I actually didn’t have a quinceñera, but I did get to take part in one for my cousin. I’ve just never really been into parties. But the thing I’m most looking forward to in that aspect is getting my license.

What else is happening in your immediate future?

Well, I relocated to L.A. because I booked a role on the show “The Secret Life of the American Teenager,” which is super exciting. But I still want to continue with school. A dream of mine is to become an executive producer and writer. I would love if that ended up happening to me in the future.

Girl in Progress

May 11, 2012 by  
Filed under Reviews

Starring: Cierra Ramirez, Eva Mendes, Matthew Modine
Directed by: Patricia Riggen (“Under the Same Moon”)
Written by: Hiram Martinez (debut)

It’s a term every high school freshman English class has covered since teachers started passing out copies of “The Catcher in the Rye” and “To Kill a Mockingbird.” Whether reading Charlotte Bronte’s original novel “Jane Eyre” or watching director Cary Fukunaga’s dark and elegant film adaptation from last year, the coming-of-age story has outlined the transition from childhood to adulthood for a countless number of literary and cinematic characters over generations. Adding itself into the already crowded film genre is “Girl in Progress,” a sort of meta coming-of-age tale that attempts to stand out from the pack by making its lead protagonist self-aware of her own maturation. It’s a sometimes clever albeit limiting little concept from director Patricia Riggen (“Under the Same Moon”) and first-time feature screenwriter Hiram Martínez that never rises above the initial setup. There may be a serious need for more well-structured, Latino-themed movies of this brand (consider “Raising Victor Vargas,” “Real Women Have Curves,” and “Quinceañera” admirable examples), but “Girl in Progress” is sadly not one of them.

Meet Ansiedad (newcomer Cierra Ramírez in a likeable role), a frustrated teenager living in Seattle who is tired of being treated like a kid by her often negligent mother Grace (Eva Mendes), whose current relationship with a married doctor (Matthew Modine) doesn’t make her an ideal role model for her daughter. When Ansiedad (Spanish for anxiety) learns what a coming-of-age story is in school, she decides she will fast-track her way through adolescence by checking off a list of things she must experience to reach adulthood (first kiss, bad-girl phase, loss of virginity, running away to NYC, etcetera).

The approach “Girl in Progress” takes might’ve worked if it didn’t play right into the hand it wanted to avoid. By giving Ansiedad the freedom to map out her own transformative journey, there aren’t any scenes of insight or ambition except on an artificial level. Instead, Martínez fashions the script in the same manner Ansiedad would if she chose to ever document her unrealistic strategy on paper, cliché after cliché.

In one particular scene that had the potential of being a very sweet moment between mother and daughter, Grace kneels at the base of a bathtub to wash Ansiedad’s hair and have a heart-to-heart talk. The scene is interrupted by Grace’s ringing cell phone, which she promptly answers to unnecessarily reiterate how self-involved her character is. It’s only one example of the many pointless plot devices misused in “Girl in Progress,” a family film that defines the word epiphany so someone can actually have an epiphany. If that’s considered forward-thinking filmmaking, here’s to always staying a step behind.