After three seasons as a professional cheerleader for the NBA’s Sacramento Kings from 2001-2003, Vanessa Born decided to head south to L.A. to pursue her dream of becoming an actress. Since making the trip to Hollywood, she has earned small parts on shows such as “Hannah Montana” and “CSI: NY.” Born, who is part Spanish, now stars in “Bring it On: Fight to the Finish,” the fifth installment of the popular cheerleading series.
Were you a fan of the first four movies?
Oh, yeah. The very first movie set it off for me. I was a cheerleader in high school and college and then in the NBA. Basically, these are movies that you live and die by.
So, you were one of those cheerleaders that knew all the dialogue word for word and loved spirit fingers?
(Laughs) Yes! I remember slumber parties and reciting those movies verbatim.
Since the “Bring it On” series has its own fan base, did that put more pressure on the cast to live up to expectations?
There was actually pressure to give it something new like the different mechanics and different cheerleading combinations. The writing is really funny. Our two writers are comedy writers that gave us something amazing to work with. Then, luckily, we were working with an awesome director, too. If you felt like there was something you wanted to improv, [director Billie Woodruff] would let you go and do it. We just went with it.
With all your experience in cheerleading, I’m guessing there wasn’t anything too challenging in terms of choreography.
You’d be surprised. I was a professional dancer in the NBA for three years with the Sacramento Kings. Even still, the training was so intense! I was surprised. My butt got kicked on that set a lot.
So, are you a Sacramento Kings fan?
Of course. It’s so hard living in L.A. Everybody’s got something to say.
Tell me about cheerleading in the NBA.
Cheerleading in the NBA really prepared me a lot for acting. I was really shocked. You go through so much media training and how to present yourself. In Sacramento, to be a cheerleader, you have to go through a lot. It’s hard work. I give it up to every dancer in the NBA who is going for the gold. They have a really tough job but it’s a really fun job.
After three seasons with the Kings, why did you decide to leave?
I wanted to be an actress. I was the clown on the squad. I was always cracking jokes. I was always the one with the cheesy smile. I thought about it and I really wanted to go to L.A. and act. Luckily, I had a very supportive team. They were very supportive when I left.
Since you have so much experience, were you the one on the set everyone would go to if they wanted cheerleading tips?
If anyone wanted to rehearse I was always available. I was always the one saying, “Okay, let’s do it again!” Everyone would be like, “Alright! We’ve done it 6,000 times already!” But 6,001 would make you even better.
Any bumps and bruises along the way?
(Laughs) Yes! I got very injured in a stunt that we tried. It was pretty awesome, but I pulled a back muscle. It was my first pulled muscle ever. I’ve never broken or pulled anything in my entire cheerleading career. I was out for a couple of days. You get a lot of bruises on your legs, but it’s nothing you can’t handle.
So, for those people who say that cheerleading isn’t a real sport, you just show them your bruises?
Oh my gosh! Anyone that says cheerleading isn’t a real sport is crazy! Just look at any of the ESPN cheerleading competitions. They do some of the most amazing acrobatic performances I’ve ever seen in my life.