Raini Rodriguez (L) with Kevin James (R) at the movie Mall Cop 2 as Maya and Paul Blart. Sony Pictures Entertainment

Paul Blart: "Mall Cop 2" is finally here. The film is coming out this April 17. In the sequel, in which Kevin James, actor and writer of this story, reprises the role of Paul Blart, the security Guard is headed to Las Vegas to attend a Security Guard Expo with his teenage daughter Maya (Raini Rodriguez) before she departs for college. While at the convention, he inadvertently discovers a heist and it is up to Blart to apprehend the criminals. Latin Times had the opportunity to talk with Rodriguez, a hilarious young actress, about her experience working with Kevin James in the first and second movie.

Latin Times: Could you share with us how your character in the film Paul Blart: "Mall Cop 2" changes from the first one?

Raini Rodriguez: Six years after the first one; Maya’s all grown up now, and she is ready to go off to college and start her life, and explore, you know figure out who she is, and her dad is quite not ready for that and they decide to go on a fun father-daughter trip to Las Vegas because Paul gets an invitation to a security guard expo, so they go. Maya gets herself into some accidental trouble and her dad had to come to rescue her, so its somewhere in the ways of the first movie, you know obviously Maya got herself into trouble and her dad had to rescue her, so that’s the same, but she is more mature now. She grown up and she is really taken over the role of taking care of her dad and she is still very much of a daddy’s girl. But she does not like to you know hurt his feeling by saying she wants to go to college but at the same time she is being real head strong about it, that she wants to go and figure out her own life kind of thing.

LT: Doing comedy is hard for you, or it is just part of your personality?

RR: Comedy is definitely part of my personality, I love doing funny stuff, I love working with funny actors and creating these characters and coming up with you know fun situations to get into. Maya is a lot like me, the way that she is a daddy’s girl. She definitely loves her dad and doesn’t want to hurt his feelings with anything and I’m really like that as well. But she’s fun. It’s fun because in this movie you know Kevin is so great with his outrages comedy, moves that he does, you know crashes into wall, bumping into doors and all the Segway, so it’s so much fun to get to watch him do that of screen and then portrayed in the big screen as well. It’s really fun.

LT: How different is Maya Blart from the real Raini?

RR: She is not too different, I think Maya is a little bit- she’s kind of quieter than me, I’m definitely very loud, I like to be loud and just be sarcastic more, but were very much alike. She obviously cares about her dad and her family very much and you know she’s very mature, in the sense of taking care of her dad and the family and the house and running things for her dad. It’s really stepping up to the plate and just being head strong of what she wants, she is a “go getter” and you know in this movie she wants to go to college and college is her goal, and that’s what she wants and that’s what she’s going to get. So I am very much like that too, you know I’m very head strong, you know confident. We’re actually kind of similar except that she is definitely quieter.

LT: I can see you are pretty young, however you have over 10 years as an actress; how do you combine your own life with your professional job?

RR: You know what, I just I enjoy working so much, that it just sort of a part of who I am, you know it’s not like I go off and I’m somebody else off camera versus you know who I am when I’m working, I’m sort of the same person. I just love working so much and love acting and I love being able to balance that with my actual life, it’s just a part of who I am.

LT: As Latina, do you think it is a benefit for you to work in this industry?

RR: I think being Latina is just a part of me, it’s who I am, how I was raised, and it’s what I am. It’s you know the color if my skin, it’s my personality, it’s just another part of me. For me to be able to be working you know Latina actress in this industry is a true blessing. Um- I enjoy it so much, I love working, I love being able to tell the stories that inspire other girls out there and young kids to follow their dreams, you know and to be able to speak to all the kids these days that no matter who you are and what your background is, and the color of your skin and whether you’re a boy or a girl, your dreams can totally come true if you just work really hard for that cause that’s what I’ve done my whole life , is work really hard. I think whether I’m Mexican American or just American or just Mexican or any color, in that for that matter, as long as you work hard, and have a goal, and work really hard towards that goal, it’ll happen, because you are working for something positive. So I feel like you know it’s a true blessing to be working.

LT: How are your Spanish skills? Do you think maybe you can do something in that language in the future?

RR: Yeah! Spanish is something I am working on obviously, but growing up in Texas you know Tejana music is really big, and at something that I always do all the time, it’s just you know what I grew up with, so being able to do that song was great because it was reminding me of what I was listening when I was home with my family. I actually can sing in Spanish better than I can speak in Spanish, go figure! I guess, I guess the music notes sticks better to my head than the actual words. I’m getting a lot better with my Spanish though.

LT: Finally Raini, will you like to share with us your new, upcoming projects?

RR: Yes! I recently directed an episode of Austin & Ally, which I’m really excited to come out. It’ll come out later this year, but I made my directorial day view and that was pretty special to me, that I’ve been working really hard for that, over the last couple of years, of this training and shouting of a director and learning all I can from the craft, and to be able to do it on a show like Austin & Ally was just a dream come true. So I’m looking forward to directing more and you know I can’t wait till Mall Cops 2 comes out and everyone’s going to love it. It’s going to be so much fun, so I’m just excited for everything!

Raini Rodriguez
Raini Rodiguez (L) as Maya Blart at the movie Mall Cop 2 in theaters on April 17. Sony Pictures Entertainment

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