The actor called his late co-star's "Filly Brown" performance "special and poignant" backstage at the Billboard Latin Awards.

After a tribute and six trophies at the Billboard Latin Awards on Thursday, Jenni Rivera's "Filly Brown" colleagues added to the late singer's praise backstage.

"She elevated the game, which is extraordinary for her first performance ever in front of a dramatic camera," actor Edward James Olmos told Billboard of Rivera's big-screen debut in the indie movie. "This was truly a very special and poignant performance that she needed to give. She had a coach and she worked for over a month, every day -- it became really evident that she was committed."

Praising her ability to bring "truth" to the film, he singled out one scene as a highlight of his entire career.

"There is a scene at the end of the movie, which is the gift of almost film I've ever done. When they see it, they'll understand," he said.

Director Michael D. Olmos, the elder Olmos' son, said that working with Rivera had been a "blessing."

"Jenni, she was so generous as an artist," he said, adding that she'd wanted her fans to be proud of her film debut. "She was so eager to do such a good job."

"Filly Brown" is in theaters now. Rivera died on Dec. 9, 2012, in a plane crash that killed several members of her crew.

With reporting by Justino Aguilar.

Questions? Comments? Let us know: @billboard

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