Girl in Progress' Eva Mendes admits she was a "difficult" teen

May 11, 2012 at 9:00 a.m. ET

Eva Mendes plays an irresponsible mom to rebellious teen, Cierra Ramirez, in the coming-of-age story Girl in Progress. But was Eva herself an unruly child growing up? The actress spills to SheKnows.

Eva Mendes isn't a mother in the traditional sense, but she has certainly trained her "child" Hugo (a large but mannerly Belgian Malinois), very well.

Hugo sat patiently on the floor next to Eva's chair at The Four Seasons in Beverly Hills recently as we discussed her role in this month's mother-daughter bonding movie, Girl in Progress.

So was Eva herself as well-behaved growing up?

"I was a dream child up until I was about 13," Eva spilled. "I was in the student body and a straight-A student, and then something happened around junior high. I became a little more difficult, although not rebellious."

Eva's character in the flick, Grace, is not so lucky. Her daughter Anesidad, played by Cierra Ramirez, begins to rebel after feeling ignored by her mother.

"It gets a little dark," said Eva. "Grace was written as a disaster of a mother. I liked that it was dealing with real issues that mothers and daughters go through."

Though they've had the typical mother-daughter issues, Eva said she and her mother have a great relationship. For Mother's Day this weekend, Eva plans to share the film with her mom.

"I'm sending my mom and sisters to see it," said Eva. "Then we're meeting up at my house for lunch."

Eva also let us in on the most important lesson she's ever learned from her mom, something that will come in handy when she sees the heartfelt, but hilarious, film.

"My mom would always tell me, 'When in doubt, just laugh,'" Eva told SheKnows. "'Laugh at yourself first, and then have everyone laugh along with you.'"

Watch our interview with Eva Mendes above for more mother-daughter scoop from her and co-star Cierra Ramirez.