One of the reasons the poignant urban drama Babygirl is such a strong film is its remarkable cast.
Newcomer Yainis Ynoa stars as Lena, a Bronx teenager who acts as her mother's protector. When her mother begins dating a questionable man, Lena is determined to expose him. All the while, she deals with typical teen issues such as a catty best friend and a new crush, played by Joshua Rivera. The understated BabyGirl is an appealing portrait of Bronx life that accurately captures life in the borough.
The International Business Times had the chance to speak with the film's young actors about the film's run at the Tribeca Film Festival in New York and past misrepresentations of the Bronx on-screen.
What's it been like to see the film at Tribeca with an audience?
Rivera: It feels fantastic to see all the risks that you take. You're putting yourself out there for a grand purpose. I'm just glad to get a positive response and positive feedback from people. It makes it all worth it.
Ynoa: It's a dream come true. It means the world when you work so hard for something, put your heart into it, and see it come alive, and watch people have a positive response to it.
Do you think that the Bronx has a history of being misrepresented in films?
Rivera: Sometimes, depending on the genre, it's all about the nitty-gritty aspects. There's often drugs and Puerto Ricans killing each other. It's just been the same thing, but this film showed it in a different light.
Ynoa: In Babygirl, there's tough things that go on every day, but you also get the love scene. There's sweetness in the world of hardships.
Rivera: You get the innocence as well as the corruption.
Babygirl director Macdara Vallely asked you to write a biography of Lena prior to shooting. How valuable was it for you as an actress?
Ynoa: Macdara did that as a favor to me, especially because it was my first film. It was really cool because he didn't tell me what to write. It allowed me to put my own voice into the character. He wasn't strict -- he was very open and understanding.