Even though not all of her movies have been in the horror genre, actress Judy Cerda could be considered a Scream Queen. Her list of acting credits include Spyware, California Tango, Priest’s Calling (as Gwen, a club girl with an attitude), and a Doritos commercial where she’s chased by a zombie. Speaking of which; the above clip is from the 2004 film Tele-Zombie (one that has given Judy the Scream Queen tag), which also features a true Scream Queen legend; Brinke Stevens.
Judy’s been on my Facebook and Myspace friends lists for the past few years and, as I saw that her list of acting credits has kept growing during that time, I decided it was time I contacted her about an interview, which she graciously agreed to.
CHRIS CHARLES: First off, I’d like to thank you for granting me this interview, Judy.
JUDY CERDA: Thank you for thinking of me.
CHRIS: So, what was your very first role?
JUDY: It was a comedy movie and I don’t remember the name of it. I was a teenager then. I do remember that I was playing some kind of model seeking work and there was a funny guy pretending he could help me. One scene that stands out was when I was calling to him and he was running down the freeway to me in his underwear. It was a hilarious scene and the cars in traffic kept beeping at him!
CHRIS: I see your Myspace handle is “dancing woman.” Do you have formal dance training?
JUDY: Yes, I do. I started out dancing way before acting. I used to take tap, jazz and ballet dance classes and perform in recitals, at shopping centers, in retirement homes, etc. and then started competing in county fair dance competitions. I got quite a lot of first place ribbons. Then I got into theatre and got a lot of dancer roles before I got any acting roles. I still love dancing today but mainly just for fun when I go out dancing. Although I have danced in a few movies and also on a TV show for the last few years as a creative dancer. I was very shy as a child and dancing helped open me up. I dreamed of being an actress but couldn’t go to an acting audition then without trembling. Dancing relaxed me quite a bit and gave me confidence. I also started singing in musicals and became quite a good singer.
CHRIS: I saw you in Tele-Zombie a few years ago. Was that the first time you worked with Brinke Stevens?
JUDY: Yes it was. The funny thing is we actually did not meet as our scenes were filmed on different days. The scenes of us in the same room were spliced together so it looked like we were appearing in the scene together but because of schedule conflicts, we had to film on separate days. We are Facebook and Myspace friends, though. That was a great feature film; the director did a wonderful job on it.
CHRIS: Of all the directors and actors you’ve worked with, who were your favorites?
JUDY: As far as directors, Ferdinand Casido of The Painter, Terry Rodriguez of The Bench, Akhtar Shieh of Expect Murder and Borderlines, and Jeff Lunzaga (also known as “Desciple”) of The Rift and Chronicles of the Order. There were many other directors I really liked a lot and enjoyed working with but these four stand out as being exceptional and giving me roles that I really connected with. I’ve also worked with some great casts so I’ve been very fortunate in that respect. My two costars in The Painter were wonderful to work with.
CHRIS: I won’t ask for names, but are there any directors or actresses you’d never work with again?
JUDY: Most of the directors I have worked with have been great but there was one who gave me a role that really didn’t fit me. I almost turned it down but he promised me that he had other better roles for me in his company and that his company was doing work in LA, so this would be good exposure and a good opportunity for me. He also paid me for the role and promised me a copy of the film when it was done. He was submitting it to a TV station for a TV movie of the week and seemed confident it would make it. During the filming, he kept me waiting for hours, which wasn’t necessary as he could have given me a much later call time. He was disorganized and a little unpleasant. Then when the movie was done, I found out on the Internet that it played in a huge film festival but I was never notified so I could go see it. I found him on Facebook and added him as a friend. He accepted that but when I asked him about getting my copy after more than a few years of waiting, he did not answer me and deleted me. I never heard from him again about the future roles he had discussed with me or where else this film went. So, I don’t believe I would ever work with him again. He doesn’t keep his promises and is too rude. As for actresses or actors I wouldn’t want to work with again, there were a couple but if I was cast and so were they, I would still do the job as I am a professional.
The type I dislike strongly in this business, and it always seems to be a woman who does it, is the kind who think they should be directing and tell others what to do and change the scene from how the director directed it. This kind is trouble on set. We are hired actors, not directors, so we should do our jobs and let the director do his directing. I don’t need another actor to director me. Usually it’s a woman who is not that good herself and thinks she can direct other actresses. That type is a nuisance to deal with on set.
CHRIS: What have been your most memorable shoots or locations?
JUDY: I really enjoyed filming in a unique gallery in San Jose for the movie The Painter in my role of Sarah, who was on a date, and I enjoyed filming at a beautiful park/lake in Vallejo for the movie The Bench in my role of Sophia Giovanni, a woman in love. I also had a lead role in the movie Expect Murder as Susie Blake, a head nurse, and one of my scenes was shot at a gorgeous home in Tracy where we had our party scene. They had a beautiful yard for us to hang out in between scenes and the party room was amazing. I loved doing that feature film Expect Murder as the all scenes were interesting and in many different locations. The director, Akhtar Shieh, died a year after the film was made so it will be my last memory of him. He was a great director and gave me a lead role in another feature film he had done called Borderlines. He had real faith in me and I will never forget him. He was a really good person with good intentions.
CHRIS: Ever been offered any parts you turned down because you just didn’t like the project or what would have been expected of you?
JUDY: Yes, several. I hate to turn down roles but sometimes you have to or you’ll regret it. I have turned down roles that involved nudity (as I am way too shy for that) and turned down a music video recently because it involved filming my scenes in Oakland for several hours throughout the night. With the crime rate so high in Oakland and the location in a bad area, I just had to turn it down and think about saving my own life. I really wanted to play the role in the music video but felt it was too dangerous and that a better location could have been chosen. I also turned down a few roles on TV in LA because of schedule conflicts and the pay not being high enough to cover my plane flight. I hated to do that but sometimes money becomes a factor and timing can be way off. I try not to turn down anything anymore though if the role is good and I can possibly change my schedule to accommodate it.
CHRIS: You’re now considered by some, a “Scream Queen.” Did you set out to become one, or did it just sort of happen?
JUDY: It just happened. I like doing all kinds of movies, not just horror, but I got cast in a few horror films and then it led to more. I ended up playing a victim (Patty Roebuck) in the web series Millennium Apocalypse: The Dark Inside You, which involved real screaming and being terrorized. That episode will be out in September and I think it was a really good one. It was stormy and dark the night I filmed my scenes and I believe that added to to the mood. That is a crime drama series with some horrific scenes in it and I loved being a part of it.
I also played a victim being chased by zombies in a Doritos commercial which was a lot of fun and looked very real. I played Joyce McCann, a real estate agent in a horror TV series called Invocation which is a real thriller. I do enjoy these kinds of genres very much.
CHRIS: When you’re not in front of the camera, what do you enjoy doing?
JUDY:I really enjoy going singing in karaoke bars, especially Coasters, Ideal Bar & Grill and Bocci’s Cellar in Santa Cruz, and dancing in them, too. I like going out to nightclubs for some good dancing, spending the day in Monterey with my husband shopping and dining out. I love going to county fairs, I like to shop in Walnut Creek’s downtown area, I go to the movies a lot, of course, with the business I’m in, especially the drive in movie in San Jose. I also love walking in parks and taking fun trips to Las Vegas.
CHRIS: I see your latest movie, The Bench, recently finished filming. What was it like making that one?
JUDY: It was a great experience with a terrific director, Terry Rodriguez. I played the role of Sophia Giovanni, a wife really in love with her husband before tragedy strikes. We filmed all over Vallejo at a beautiful park, in downtown Vallejo and at Mare Island. In fact, there was a major motion picture movie crew filming on Mare Island on the same day which was fun. We did some nice scenes and the actor playing my husband Stephen Giordano was fun to work with. I think a lot of good footage was shot and from the photos I received, it looks really good. This film is sure to make it in many film festivals and will be out very quickly. My character is loving and flirty, the type of role I like to play and I really connected with it. I was really happy to do this film.
CHRIS: What will be your next project?
JUDY: I’ve been cast in a feature film called United Flesh in the lead role of Queenie, a bold, flamboyant woman who is a nurse believing she is a doctor and can take on unique medical cases herself. I start filming this next month and look forward to it.
CHRIS: I understand you sometimes make personal appearances and meet and greet fans?
JUDY: Yes. I appeared at the Horror Film Festival in San Francisco last year where I gave a speech and met many people there. I have also been interviewed in books and magazines but haven’t done an official book signing yet but would love to some time.
CHRIS: Well, thanks again Judy. You’ve been awesome. In closing, is there anything you’d like to say to your fans? JUDY: Thanks for your encouragement and support. Many of you are good friends of mine and knowing you are there for me means a lot. I post as many pictures and film clips as I am allowed on my Google website, Facebook, Myspace and a few other websites so if you want to view my latest endeavors, you can find me on these websites to see what I’m up to.
Originally from the San Francisco Bay Area, Chris flirted with the music business there and in Nashville before joining the U.S. Army and serving in South Korea. He remained in Asia for several years afterwards, teaching English, traveling, and covering the regional entertainment scenes. Currently in a mindset between Seoul and San Francisco, besides Idol Features, you can also catch his writings in the print edition of the monthly magazine, Effective.
Since my first interview with actress Judy Cerda, more than three years ago, she’s continued to stay very visible in San Francisco’s indie film scene. Last year, she appeared in Last Doorway Productions’ Monster of