The 11th annual Tribeca film festival will hit the ground running Thursday night in New York City, where a handful of Latino filmmakers and actors are leaving their mark at the esteemed festival.
One of these films is “BabyGirl,” which tells the story of a Puerto Rican girl named Lena, played by Yainis Ynoa, and her struggle to reveal to her mother the truth about the mother’s perverted boyfriend, played by fellow Latino Flaco Navaja.
Born and raised in the Bronx, Ynoa, 17, says being Puerto Rican and Dominican helped her relate to Lena’s character. She added that she wants Latinos to see the message of family in the movie.
“These kinds of things they can happen to anyone in any type of community,” Ynoa told Fox News Latino.
“Lena is raised by single mother and she gets caught in love triangle with her mother and her mother’s boyfriend. She’s going through the transition of girl to woman. [Certainly] a coming of age of a drama.”
For Ynoa, it’s the emotional moments between Lena and her mother that humanize the flick.
“This movie, it’s so amazing because it has a heartfelt moment,” Ynoa continued. “She’s trying to grow up but having to take care of her mother. To Lena, family is the most important thing, and getting this guy away from her family. I’m pretty sure anyone can relate to that, how far you would go for your family.”
Ynoa says getting the opportunity to have the lead role was a dream come true. It was a moment that resonates with her because her cousin is also in the film.
“My cousin plays my best friend in the movie,” Ynoa said. “She called me up and told me about this movie she had just auditioned for and that they were still looking for roles. They liked me and told me to come back for call backs. They told me I had the part!”
After learning she had the role, Ynoa said she worked hard so Latinos seeing the film could learn “to appreciate that something like this has been brought to life.”
“I just hope they can relate to the movie. There are parts of the movie with her family and her friends,” Ynoa said. “[I want them to] appreciate that something like this has been brought to life instead of what people say about the Bronx and Hispanics,” she added.
“They will see this film and see love instead of a lot of violence.”
She said she was proud of the movie.
“I’m excited to see everyone’s reaction to the film. I’ve never been to a film festival before, let alone one where my film is in it,” Ynoa said.
Ynoa says working on bringing “BabyGirl” to life was challenging because she was still at students at Contemporary High School in Bronx.
“I graduate now in June,” Ynoa said excitedly. “I had tutors on set to make up the [school] work and would go to school in between scenes,” she added. “It’s hard work.”
“I want to continue acting forever,” Ynoa added. “It’s my passion [so] I’m focusing on that now.”