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Actress Cerina Vincent returns to Vegas with the thriller ‘MoniKa’ at the Las Vegas Film Festival

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Las Vegas native Cerina Vincent has been a Power Ranger, a horror-movie scream queen and a guest star on a range of popular TV shows, but before all that, she performed in the Rainbow Company Youth Theatre’s ensemble, appeared in a production of Annie at Spring Mountain Ranch and was Miss Nevada Teen USA in 1996. “I grew up going to Mount Charleston and Lake Mead, and shooting guns out in the middle of the desert and riding four-wheelers,” she says of her Vegas upbringing.

The Details

MoniKa
July 20, 3 p.m., $10, LVH Theater

Vincent headed to LA to pursue acting after high school, and she returns to town this week as the star and co-executive producer of MoniKa, which was shot almost entirely in Las Vegas and plays Friday afternoon at the Las Vegas Film Festival. “It’s a violent, edgy action-revenge thriller with a supernatural, dreamlike sort of twist,” Vincent says of the movie, in which she plays the title character, “a tomboy, stoic, sort of unemotional chick that grew up in the desert shooting guns and wanting to be a cop.”

Vincent previously worked with MoniKa writer-director Steven R. Monroe on several indie features, and he first sent her the script seven years ago. It wasn’t until last year that Monroe was able to get the production going, and shooting in Vegas wasn’t part of the original plan, Vincent explains. “During pre-production, [Monroe] sent me an email while they were out location scouting trying to find the perfect desert for things, like, ‘Don’t get too excited, but I just got an inspired idea. Let’s move this whole movie to Las Vegas.’”

In addition to the desert outside of town, MoniKa was shot in what Vincent calls “the seedy part of Downtown Vegas,” with locations including Atomic Liquors and the Blue Angel Motel. As co-executive producer, Vincent was instrumental in putting the movie together, and she’s proud to be able to bring the finished product to her hometown for its first public screening. “It sounds super-cheesy,” she says, “but it was kind of a beautiful experience to see everything come together.”

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