As soon as Cerina Vincent sent the e-vite for the Las Vegas Film Festival screening of her new thriller, MoniKa, she started getting nervous. Her title role in the film, which was shot in Vegas, includes a sex scene. Her invite list included her large, extended Italian family.
It’s not that some relatives haven’t already seen the “scream queen” naked on screen (her mom was her date to the premiere of Not Another Teen Movie, in which she played Areola, a totally nude character). And it’s not that the 33-year-old Las Vegas native—who made her Hollywood debut in 1999 as Maya, the yellow Power Ranger—is embarrassed by nudity (“just part of the job”). Still, such scenes are difficult for her family to watch. In fact, after appearing on Howard Stern’s radio show to promote her sexually charged role in the horror film Cabin Fever, Vincent actually received a scolding from her aunt.
But the former Miss Nevada Teen USA and 1997 Durango High School graduate isn’t just boobs and body. In addition to acting—she’s appeared in countless films and TV shows, including such sitcoms as Two and a Half Men and Mike & Molly—Vincent co-wrote the successful Hot Chick book series (HarperCollins) with friend Jody Lipper. In it, she redefines a “hot chick” as a woman with inner confidence rather than outer beauty. Vincent, who is now based in Los Angeles, seems to have both.
What kind of film is MoniKa?
It’s a violent, edgy action revenge thriller with a supernatural element and a dreamlike quality, so it will really make you think. … Thriller/horror fans will love it, but I think even if you’re not a fan of thriller movies, it’s a cool film. I play the title character, a tomboy, badass chick who grew up in the desert. Steven [R. Monroe, the director] made me dye my hair; I’m actually Italian, I’m a brunette, and he said, “I want you to go platinum blond.” I was like “How about a few highlights?” And he said, “No!” I went through 15 hours of bleach.
Where in Vegas did you shoot MoniKa?
We shot a lot at the Atomic Lounge downtown, and we shot downtown in some of the older, rundown areas. We alsoshot a lot at the Blue Angel motel.
So now that you know firsthand, is it true: Do blondes really have more fun?
You know what’s interesting is people totally treated me differently. The color that it was in the movie is psycho. I mean I looked like—and I’m not judging by any means—but I looked kind of like a Playmate or something. It was an eye-opening experience.
Women were actually really rude to me. I was sitting out by the pool at the hotel they put us up at, reading my script … and it was windy so my script was blowing away, and my hat was blowing away, so I was fussing with all my stuff. And this woman about, I don’t know, 10 feet from me says to her husband, “Oh look at that girl, ‘Ooh ooh, I’m an actress. Look at me, I’m so important, I have a script.’” Nothing like that has ever happened to me as a brunette. I felt like it was a blonde thing.
You’ve made a career as a sex symbol. Was that your intention?
As an actress you get put into a certain category, and I was very quickly put into this whole sexy, exotic sort of category. I really fought—and still do—to play girl-next-door type of roles. I don’t really get seen as that; I get called in all the time to play a hooker or a stripper. I don’t have a problem doing nudity … but then it’s out there for the world to see forever, so you do struggle with being judged and people talking about your body. That’s a different kind of energy than people rolling their eyes at me in line at the grocery store because my hair was blond.
Is it awkward shooting sex scenes?
It’s literally just another day at work, just another scene on the call sheet. You have seven scenes you have to get through that day, and that one comes like right before lunch or something. Most directors know exactly what they want and get through it as fast as possible. You don’t rehearse, you just go and shoot it and get it over with.
Your résumé also includes a make-out scene with Charlie Sheen in Two and a Half Men. How was that?
He was totally great—absolutely, 100 percent professional, a gentleman. And he really takes his work seriously. He’s truly talented. I feel sorry for him—when he went off his rocker, he was, by definition, out of his mind. Something was definitely wrong. That wasn’t him. I remember thinking, “I hope he looks back on this and is like, ‘Oh God, what was I thinking?’” because that would mean he’s better.
Do you have a favorite Vegas hangout?
My grandmother’s old house in Henderson. She came from Italy, raised nine kids there, and now my aunt and my father have turned it into an adorable little wedding chapel, Little Chapel on the Corner. We have a huge family. We’ll throw some family event there, and then just hang out afterward.
We understand you’re a huge UNLV basketball fan. Who’s your favorite Rebel?
Mike Moser and Anthony Marshall. They never quit. They play good ol’ fashioned Runnin’ Rebel basketball! Chace Stanback was a family favorite—he’ll be missed, especially by my little sister Angela. She loved him.
Being back home, did you notice a lot of changes in the city?
Oh my God! I miss the miles and miles of untouched desert that expanded to the mountains. There are so many shopping centers now. So many! Now that I’ve been living in L.A. for so many years I appreciate the small-town feel that Vegas still has.Everything is easy: Parking, running errands. I hear traffic is getting bad, but it’s nothing like L.A., where it can take you 90 minutes to go nine miles.
Which do you prefer, scream queen or author?
I’m definitely grateful for the scream-queen aspect of my career, because genre fans are loyal and they’re wonderful. They’ll love you forever.
Have your fans ever done anything strange to get your attention?
I started getting fan mail to my house back in the Power Ranger days, and one guy kept asking for a lock of my hair. Creepy. But the one that topped that was the guy who asked me to step on him—to stand on his stomach, and then we’d take a photo. I respectfully declined.
Any random skills?
I’m a really good cook! Italian food is one of my specialties. But I’m also queen of taking nothing—like when you can’t find anything in the house—and creating something kind of awesome.