As in Spanglish, Ana (America Ferrera, in the performance that put her on the map) must navigate between her upwardly mobile ambitions (in the form of an Ivy League college acceptance) and doing right by the Latina heritage that is her striving immigrant mother Carmen’s legacy. (Carmen wants Ana to work in the Los Angeles fabric sweatshop where the other women in the family work, and can’t imagine letting Ana leave home before her older sister finds a husband).
Ana has a full scholarship to Columbia, but out of duty, she does go to work as a seamstress, at least for a summer. Daughter and mother (played by the late great character actress Lupe Ontiveros) clash over other issues as well, particularly the ripening sexuality apparent in the teen’s far-from-model-thin body. George Lopez is on hand as the high school English teacher who encourages Ana’s college aspirations and serves as a touchstone to suggest that Ana can excel academically without betraying her roots.
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