(Release Info London schedule; January 25th, 2019, 63 - 65 Haymarket, Westminster, 20:00 PM)
As Maya Vargas (Jennifer Lopez) celebrates her 43rd birthday, she has one wish. A promotion.
After 15 years at 'Value Shop', the past six as assistant manager, she’s ready to run the big box store in Queens. Her resumé doesn’t scream upper management, but her track record sure does. She’s an innovator who listens to customers, knows what they need and finds a way to deliver. But 'Value Shop' hires 'the right man for the job', a man with an 'MBA', not 'GED'- certified Maya. Maya’s boyfriend Trey (Milo Ventimiglia) and best friend Joan (Leah Remini) try to boost her spirits, but Maya is frustrated as once again street smarts doesn’t equal book smarts. Was her entire future determined when she was 16, or can she actually reinvent herself in her 40’s? Maya’s prospects brighten when she lands an interview at the Manhattan consumer products firm, 'Franklin & Clarke'. When Maya’s friends show up to make breakfast before her first day at 'Franklin & Clarke', a spontaneous 'Salt-N-Pepa' dance party breaks out in the kitchen.
Anderson Clark (Treat Williams) wants to meet her and invites his daughter Zoe (Vanessa Hudgens), a rising star at the company, to check out Maya, too. While Zoe is skeptical, Anderson is dazzled by Maya’s ability to think on her feet, not to mention her 'Wharton' degree, 'Peace Corps' service, 'Mastery Of Mandarin' and overall power player vibe. But unknown to Zoe, her father, and initially even Maya herself, those credentials were invented by Maya’s godson, who surprised her with a brand-new online identity for her birthday. Thanks to her years of experience working at 'The Value Shop' Maya lands the job, although she’s uneasy about the deception, and unsettled about her other secrets, she’s confident she can do the job. Her first day at 'Franklin & Clarke' pits Maya against Zoe in a big product development competition. 'Franklin & Clarke’s' heavy hitters align with 'Team Zoe', but Maya and her tiny crew of corporate misfits are determined to succeed.
Maya Vargas, a born-and-bred Queens girl, is having her 'Is that all there's'? moment when "Second Act" begins. She's disappointed when we meet her first. Maya has ridden the bus to 'The Ozone Park Value Shop' in Queens for 15 years. Each day, she puts on her smock and name tag and handles the store’s business with a firm and friendly hand. She knows she has what it takes to be the boss. The problem is convincing the chain’s 'CEO' that she’s qualified. But Maya, still wrestling with choices made as a teenager, has lived with regret ever since, and it’s holding her back. The people close to her would say she’s suffered long enough. But Maya has never even told her longtime boyfriend about this part of her life, and keeping that secret from him adds to her burden. Maya really is an every person. We all have dreams and often don't achieve them all. Maya is a person who made certain choices because of things that happened early in her life. There's a lot of regret about how it could have been different. As she tries to climb the ladder and things don't go her way, she sees some of those past decisions as the reason. But then she gets to cross the bridge! With that crossing, she becomes 'Manhattan Maya'.
The film shows how women support each other through thick and thin. Maya is destined to be bigger than her friends. Joan is focused on being a mom, but wants Maya to get her chance. She believes that out of all of their friends, Maya is the one who will make it. But when Maya starts to lose sight of who she really is, it’s Joan who keeps her grounded. Of course, not every woman is as supportive. Hildy (Annaleigh Ashford), the product development executive assigned to work with Maya, sees her as a rival. They’re supposed to collaborate and come up with a product together, but Hildy wants to be top dog and will do anything to get there, including stomp on her fellow lady. She’s also one of the first people to see through Maya, and question if something else is going on. Zoe, 'The CEO’s' ambitious daughter, has her guard up, too. Zoe is not Maya’s biggest fan when she arrives at 'Franklin & Clarke'. She’s another woman. Another woman is a threat. But gender is also the reason Zoe’s attitude quickly changes. To see another woman hold her own in a male-dominated space is something that most women look up to. Zoe respects Maya and through that, they form a connection that Zoe didn’t expect.
Maya in Queens is a bit sassier than 'Manhattan Maya', with a big hoop earring and bigger hair. Attitude! Borough girls naturally know how they want to look because they’re exposed to a lot of street style. Maya becomes the chic girl in Manhattan, some silks, some softer silhouettes, without completely abandoning the original. Because you can't do that. It's not a lobotomy. The original has to remain there to be believable. You always have to consider what a garment is going to do in a scene. It's not only the look of something, you've to tell the story. It's not a fashion runway. It's interesting for people to see combinations they wouldn't have thought of.
This film is about reinvention, because so many people are stuck in lives they don’t want dreaming of lives they do, only to realize they had the power all along to change. It's about a woman who feels she never got a fair shake. But then she gets an amazing opportunity, albeit not entirely honestly, that changes everything for her. Maya learns she does not have to be stuck forever. You can always reinvent. You can always make a change. You can always keep growing and to me that message has so much relevance for everybody, but especially for women. She gets to know what life is like when your dreams come true. And of course she has to deal with the fall-out of lies while achieving the goal. In one of the favorite scenes at Michael Jordan’s 'The Steak House N.Y.C.' at 'Grand Central Terminal'. Maya, Zoe and her dad are having lunch when Maya’s Queens friends, posing as old 'Ivy League Chums', pop by to check on their girl. The film gets all of the women together and we see them interact, and that’s when the real soul of the movie comes out.
"Second Act" inspired many conversations about second chances and reinvention and not giving up. About women empowering themselves and each other. About not letting one event become your whole story. About going for your dream, no matter your age or background or zipcode. This movie itself is a reminder that everything deserves a second look, a second chance. It's coming to the world at a time where people need to be reminded you just have to get creative when you’re thinking about what you’re going to do with the next 40 years. "Second Act" always means the second act of the show, when all the good stuff happens. It’s where we back up the story; it’s where the hero confronts their biggest battles, and where we've the opportunity to make the biggest, boldest choices. The mantra for "Second Act" is the only thing stopping you is you. You don’t have to hide. You really can just let all those feelings go.