Cerina Vincent ('MoniKa')
'K is for KILLER!'
Cerina Vincent is an American actress and writer best known for playing Maya the Yellow Galaxy Ranger in the television series Power Rangers Lost Galaxy, as well as her film appearances in Not Another Teen Movie, Cabin Fever, It Waits, and amongst others, Everybody Wants to Be Italian.
Having appeared in a series of theatrical and television films, after some time away from it, Vincent then returned to television in 2005 with appearances on CSI: Crime Scene Investigation, Palmetto Pointe, and Sex, Love & Secrets. Since then she has worked on the series Bones, Two and a Half Men, and most recently in The Walking Dead.
She has written three books with Jodi Lipper, and writes a regular column for The Huffington Post.
Vincent now brings us the engaging tale of 'MoniKa.' Shot almost entirely in Las Vegas, 'MoniKa' tells the violent story of a down and out man who is troubled by visions and premonitions that lead him to old school Las Vegas. There he meets the beautiful, mysterious and dangerous MoniKa ... a woman with a deadly secret!
Chatting recently with the lovely lady herself, Cerina Vincent, and taking it from the top, I first took her back to 1996, where aged just 16 she had won the Miss Nevada Teen USA title. That put her into the Miss Teen USA contest and although she didn't place in the Top 15, I first wondered what experience had she garnered from it all, back at such a young age? "Great question! I learned a great deal from that experience. I was not raised to be a beauty queen - I entered the pageant on a whim and happened to win - which then launched me into the massive competition between 50 other girls! Miss Teen USA was like shooting a reality show. All 50 girls live together in a hotel and we rehearse and practice and film…and essentially shoot the show, and it all culminates in the live event."
"So, what did I learn? Well I learned that I was done with pageants after that," she gently laughs, and smiles. "I would say I'm strong and dedicated, but I'm not competitive in the sense that one would need to win a contest like that. I love women. I don't want to go head to head like that. I also learned that I wanted to be in film and TV. I was already a part of a theatre ensemble at that time, and had been acting in plays for years, but I realized i loved the film and television aspect of the live event."
In 1999 you appeared in your first film role as a bratty teenager in the thriller, 'Fear Runs Silent' with Billy Dee Williams. What are your on set memories of that first acting job? "Wow, you really did your research," she laughs. "Again, I had no idea what I was getting myself into. I truly had the "beginners mind" - I was naive and innocent and went on an audition, was true to the material and the next thing I knew I was on set in Big Bear, CA with a bunch of experienced actors. I didn't really know what I was doing - so I just kept quiet."
"I also was pulling all nighters so I could get all my homework done! I was in college at the time. The movie conflicted with midterms so I literally didn't sleep or like 2 weeks. I'd shoot doing the day, study at night. After that film I realized even more that THIS is what I wanted to do with my life so after another 1/2 year of college I was done, and just foxed solely one acting."
"And i just love how everything comes full circle in the universe. I'm now dear friends with Billy D. Williams. We do a lot of appearances together. Not for that film," she smiles, "but for other genre work. He's a great, wise man."
Your first major role was as the Yellow Galaxy Ranger "Maya" in the 1999 TV show, Power Rangers Lost Galaxy where you were suddenly a role model for all the kids watching the show. Did you feel such pressure when acting though, or doing promotional work for the show, perhaps? "I was grateful to be a part of such and iconic kids TV series. I had the chance to play a superhero! And currently the episodes are out on DVD and Netflix - so I'm STILL a kids superhero with this next generation of kids. It's really an honor."
"At the time I was too young to realize it, but I really am grateful to have had that experience. And honestly? I've sort of always had a sense that I was a role model. Maybe it's because I'm an older sister, and then the whole Miss NV Teen thing… But I was a sweet kid. I always wanted to do the right thing, and I always wanted to make people feel loved. I didn't consciously think about it when I was acting, but when I go back and watch myself at that age, I can see it."
"Now I try to have that same softness, but I'm obviously older and wiser," she broadly smiles, "and maybe not soooo sweet," she smiles, and gently laughs, once again. "But yes, being an example of love is important to me. And I don't always succeed, but I do a lot of work to keep myself in a healthy, grateful head space."
Since then you have gone on to do more TV shows and movies, including your role as "Areola" in 2001's 'Not Another Teen Movie' - where you appear throughout the movie entirely naked! Having not even auditioned for the nude role, was it one that when you did it you were regretting it inwardly? Or was it a closed set and you have no trouble with public nudity, in general?! "Oh my goodness. It was all for great comedy. I have no regrets. And, I did audition for the film! And when I was offered the role I thought long and hard about accepting. I wasn't sure I wanted to the nudity, but I meditated on it and ultimately said yes, and it was a great experience."
"Yes, it was a closed set. Always. There are very strict rules about nudity on union films. Asking if I have "no problem with public nudity in general" isn't something that makes sense to me. It was a character in a film. And I am an actress. That particular role required nudity, but I've played dozens of characters in projects that don't require nudity. Most of our great actresses over time have showed skin once or twice - it's nothing to be ashamed of and I have no regrets."
"I did, however, feel hurt by the judgements of the world. Our bodies are personal and precious. Once you put it out there publicly, it's left for the world to judge and people can be cruel. BUT - I've since learned to ignore the negativity and just focus on my life now," she smiles.
Your now infamous "leg-shaving" scene in 2003's 'Cabin Fever' has been called one of the most memorable moments in the past ten years of horror! So, how was it for you?! "Aww, that's really such an honor! I loved that scene from the moment I read it on the page. And shooting it was technically complicated, but the way it's edited, and with the sound, I do feel lie it's a pretty damn cool scene. I'm grateful to have been a part of 'Cabin Fever.' We made a really cool movie, and I made life-long friends."
Now just released on DVD, your latest movie is 'MoniKa,' which has you not only starring in it, but executively producing it also. As this is the first time you have worn such a title, what did you have to do to earn it? "Yes, this is my first time co exec producing something. I was always attached to the film to play MoniKa, I just happened to connect the right people to help get the financing in place and help get the film made. Other than that, I didn't have a hand in the actual physical production of the film."
'MoniKa' tells the violent story of a down and out man who is troubled by visions and premonitions that lead him to old school Las Vegas. There he meets the beautiful, mysterious and dangerous MoniKa ... a woman with a deadly secret (no spoilers here!) So, when you were offered the role, how was it sold to you? "I read the script and thought MoniKa was a really cool, badass character! And I love working with [Director] Steven R. Monroe so I was excited to be a part of the project."
And why is the 'K' in her name capitalized, anyway? "I have no idea! That's a question for Steven," she wryly smiles.
Being that we're not called Exclusive Magazine for nothing, please reveal a little something special about your time on set that you've not told anyone before! "Hmmm. FUN! Okay, well, being platinum blonde isn't easy ... when you're an Italian girl with long thick brunette hair! I don't know how some of these women out there do it! It's a lot of time in a salon. And money! I don't have the patience for it," she smiles.
"I sat in 16 hours of bleach to get my hair like that. My hair is still not the same. Also, it was really fun to be on set in my home town! I was born and raised in Las Vegas, so it was nice to go "home" and shoot a movie. My dad got to come to set and visit and watch me shoot guns. He used to take me shooting as a kid, so it was fun for the whole family," she beams broadly.
Sadly, the reviews on IMDB have not been good for it, but do you read reviews of the films and TV shows you do? And if so, do the negative ones sit with you for a while, perhaps? "I try not to read them. I'll look at a few - to see how things are received - but by that time there's nothing we can do to change things anyway, so there's no point in reading things that just make me feel bad about ourselves. I'm always up for healthy, educated critiquing, but angry reviews that slam films and actors aren't helping anyone. I'm pretty sensitive."
Your next movie is 'The Thanksgiving House,' and then the brilliantly-titled, 'Skypemare'! Please tell us more about both movies and your roles as "Ashleigh" in the former, and "Alison" in the latter. "The Thanksgiving House came out LAST Thanksgiving! But I would imagine it'll re-run this year. It was so fun to be a part of a Larry Levinson Hallmark film. I had a blast with that role! Love doing family films ... and I hope to do more!"
And yes, Skypemare is out right now and getting a lot of great attention on YouTube!" [See trailer above]. "I made this with a group of my dearest friends and filmmakers. John Fitzpatrick wrote and directed. His rockstar wife Sarah was our sound and producer. My BFF and fabulous actress Annika Marks played my BFF. My first friend I met in college in LA, actor Ryan Dillion was the bad guy. Adam J. Yeend is a producer and actor as well. And our DP Nicholas Kaat is incredibly talented! And Ashley Walsh, another dear friend of mine and very talented did our makeup EFX."
"We call ourselves Team Sledgehammer (inside joke) and we all really care about each other, and filmmaking. We have some really cool PSA's for the California drought that we are launching soon, so get ready for that. Annika Marks and I wrote them!! But, people are loving Skypemare!! It's received a lot of attention at film festivals Like Screamfest and Shreikfest and we had a blast making it."
What kind of person are you on Twitter? "I'm growing to like twitter more and more. My relationship with twitter started off slow, but I think we are starting to really love each other," she laughs. "People can follow me @cerinavincent and see all my random, eclectic posts. I LOVE my family - so you'll see a lot of me with my cousins and siblings. I'm blessed with really great friends so you'll see a lot of them, too. I'm also pretty spiritual, so you may see a quote from Buddha or something phenomenal about the universe. And of course, tweets about my work - or share's about my friends."
Finally, and yes, we ask everyone this question, we here at Exclusive Magazine love penguins. So, we were wondering if you do also, and if you had any stories about one, perhaps? "The only thing that comes to mind is that I cried for hours after I saw March of the Penguins. And every time I see it I'm in awe. And makes me want a baby. Well, everything makes me want a baby," she laughs loudly, smiling oh-so broadly.
Cerina, thank you for doing this with us today, take care and be well, lovely lady - "Grazie Grazie!!! Thank you, thank you. Such fun. I appreciate it all! XX!"
Interviewed by Russell A. Trunk
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