You may know Cerina Vincent as Maya, the Yellow Ranger in Power Rangers Lost Galaxy, or Suzy Diaz in Stuck in the Middle, or the scream queen featured in Cabin Fever. But behind the scenes of her acting career lies an author of four books: a women’s self-care series co-written with Jodi Lipper, and now, a children’s book centered around racial equality and diversity. We had the opportunity of holding an interview with Cerina Vincent on Thursday, where she told us all about her latest children’s book Everybody Has a Belly Button and her path to becoming an author.
Teresa Jack: Can you tell us about your journey as a writer?
Cerina Vincent: I didn’t know that I was a writer. It didn’t occur to me that this is what I want to be as a writer. Now it does. But when I started, I just did it for fun. I would write things for me. I wrote a few screenplays, and I sold a couple indie or horror movies that never got made. And then, when I started writing the book series with Jodi, it was just so fun. I didn’t think I could do it, honestly.
Look, the job of a writer in film and television is really difficult. There is so much that I don’t know. I am a very baby writer. But I’m working at it every day. I have a kid show I’m pitching and trying to sell that I created with my sister. And I would love for this to be a new chapter in my career where I’m doing more writing, creating, producing.
Teresa Jack: Comparing your Hot Chick series to this new book, you wrote it for a very different audience. How did you approach these books differently?
Cerina Vincent: If you think about it like an actor … you become whatever character is in front of you. If you’re playing a mom, you become a mom. If you’re playing a mistress, you become a mistress. Writing is like that too. We all have different voices in our head, different aspects to our personality, and different things that we’re passionate about.
So I think I can write advice books, and now that I’m a mother, I think I also know what is important for kids. So there wasn’t really a conscious transition there.
But this book, Everybody Has a Belly Button … I wrote it the day that George Floyd was murdered. I was a new mother. My son was fourteen months old. He was in a high chair, I was feeding him at the time. I was teaching him his little body parts, like, “Where are the nose, belly button, eyes, and toes?” … And I was watching this horror go on in the news like everyone else.
I thought … what am I doing right now to teach my kid about skin color and race and equality and diversity? At the time, I wasn’t really doing anything, nothing specific. And so, in that moment, I started teaching him about skin color the way you teach your kids about body parts and colors of the rainbow. … I wrote this little poem that walks them through their own little body parts and found a beautiful artist, Zoi Hunter, to bring this book to life.
Teresa Jack: What was it like working with such a young illustrator?
Cerina Vincent: It just felt so right. I was like, “Yes, that’s who I want. I want a young artist who’s hungry and excited.” I booked Power Rangers when I was nineteen. There’s something about that age where you just feel like the possibilities are endless for you, and you don’t know what you don’t know yet. You don’t have enough rejection in your life to feel super insecure. I was fearless at nineteen.
So it really was extra special to me that she is young, and … she’s going to be a very successful artist. I know it. If she was ten, twenty years older, I may not have gotten her to say yes. But no, she’s amazing, and I hope that we can do more books together.
Teresa Jack: What was it like to write a children’s book for the first time?
Cerina Vincent: It’s been so fun. Again, I didn’t know it was going to be a book. I just wrote it as a poem for my son to teach him about skin color. Then I showed it around to some friends, and people were like, “Wait, this is really good. You might be able to get this published.”
This is all just an example of: If you have an idea, follow through. It doesn’t matter what it is, even if you just want to redecorate your bedroom. … If you’re creatively inspired, don’t let that time pass. Just do the thing. You don’t know what’s going to come of it.
I’ve learned so much about myself through this process. I wrote the book and thought it was one thing, and now that it is a book, I’m like, “Oh, it’s actually so much more.” I’m not trying to sell books for me—I don’t know that I’ll ever make any more money off this book. … I want it in the hands of every kid. I want every baby to know that they are special.
Teresa Jack: Was it difficult to get your book signed by a publisher?
Cerina Vincent: Yeah, actually. … I sent it to a couple of different people, and they said no. One person said it’s too topical. And I was like, topical? Racism, topical? … you’re not the right person for me. So, there are always people that are going to say no, but I don’t stop at no, ever, in anything in my life. You just got to keep going. There are some things where you get a no, and you’re like, all right, yeah, I get it. But this, I felt it in my gut that this needed to be out there.
Teresa Jack: There are people who think children are too young for the conversations started by books like yours, that this is a kind of indoctrination. How do you respond to such claims?
Cerina Vincent: They’re wrong. We have to have these conversations. We have to educate our children from the very beginning about … the beauty of our differences, about our similarities, that some people do experience racism because of their skin color. That’s what I’m doing with my son, and it’s totally working.
Every child is special. Every child deserves the exact same opportunities, and we’re living in a country where every child doesn’t get the same opportunities because of their skin color. … What if your next kid has a disability? What if it’s your kid that is being discriminated against? We have to put ourselves in other people’s shoes. I’m a white person, I recognize that, but that’s the issue—we need more white people doing things to help change the conversation.
Teresa Jack: What’s next for you?
Cerina Vincent: I don’t know what’s coming. I don’t know what job I’m going to book next. What I do know is, I’m coming out in a film called Legend of the White Dragon, for any Power Ranger fans that are listening … I also start a film next week in Italy called The Next Big Hit. So I fly to Italy in a week, and we’re shooting in Rome. I’m unbelievably excited.
I have a couple follow-up books to Everybody Has a Belly Button that I want to do, so I’m going to start putting those into motion when I get back from Italy and auditioning all the time. I have a kids show I’m trying to sell. And, I am chasing a three-year-old.
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