mendes (L-R) Regional Mexican star Espinoza Paz, actress Eva Mendes and Mexican comic Eugenio Derbez star in director Patricia Riggen's "Girl in Progress." The film, about a single mother raising a teenage daughter, hits theaters on May 11. (Photo credit ©2011 Pantelion Films/Bob Akester)

Regional Mexican crooner Espinoza Paz has a cameo in Patricia Riggen's new film, "Girl in Progress," but the singer/songwriter says that acting in his first feature film starring Eva Mendes feels familiar.

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"I'm used to making music videos," Paz said recently during an interview at the Four Seasons in Los Angeles to promote the film in theaters today, May 11. "I'm extremely thankful for the opportunity and hope to do this again."

The film, about a young single mother raising her rebellious teen daughter, also features Matthew Modine, Cierra Ramirez, Patricia Arquette and Mexican comic Eugenio Derbez.


Paz got the part after meeting Riggen through mutual friends and while he had been contemplating a role in a movie, "Girl in Progress," was a good way to start, he said.

For Riggen, who in 2007 showcased her first feature film "La Misma Luna" at the Sundance Film Festival, casting a film with well-known American actors and Latino actors was important.

"Life in society is so diverse," Riggen says. "We're American, we're Mexican and all of us are in the same place. This is a film that's really combining a Hollywood cast and a Latino cast all in one film. Eva Mendes is the link, the bridge between the two."

justino (L-R) Regional Mexican singer/songwriter Espinoza Paz, Billboard's Justino Aguila and Paz' manager Martin Fabian hang out at the Four Seasons in Beverly Hills during an interview with the cast of "Girl in Progress" starring Eva Mendez, Matthew Modine, Eugenio Derbez and Paz.

Riggen and Paz encouraged movie-goers to purchase tickets during opening weekend to prove that Latino-themed films are viable.

"I can only hope we get the audience," Riggen says. "It will allow us to make more movies."