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The best part about beauty pageants is all the scandals. Any nuttiness when you won Miss USA?
No, unfortunately. That would have made it a lot more interesting. I was never a pageant girl. I didn’t grow up doing pageants, and I don’t ever want to compete in pageants again. I did them to get exposure and a good agent because I wanted to work as a host and an actor. And it worked for me. I didn’t want to wear a crown on my head.
What were some of the stranger aspects of the pageant circuit?
There are pageant message boards on which girls rip each other to shreds. They criticize the weirdest things, like your knees. They talked about my jaw line and called my curly hair “kinky.” It’s a bizarre world.
Is Hollywood less competitive?
For sure. I just had an audition for a movie, and on their way out each girl turned to everyone else in the room and was like, “Good luck, ladies.” Very friendly and sweet.
You hosted TRL on MTV from 2005 to 2007. Which celebrity interview sticks out in your mind?
Tom Cruise, because he was so gracious. During commercial breaks, most celebrities go backstage and talk to their publicists or get their makeup touched up. When Tom came on, he stayed out with the crowd and met as many kids as he possibly could. He probably made their years.
Did that crazy mofo leap on the couch?
We don’t have furniture on TRL.
Have you had any live TV slip-ups?
One crazy moment was when my co-host, Vanessa Minnillo—who you had on your cover a couple of times—dropped the F-bomb on New Year’s Eve. She’d had a little bit to drink, and we were still working, of course. As soon as she said that, I almost said, “Oh, crap!” I went, “Oh…” Obviously, I didn’t have quite as much alcohol in me as she did. I’m a good girl, my friend.
And Vanessa’s not?
She’s a nice girl, but there she was, playing with knives. It was a bad decision on her part, and I think she would agree with that.
Are there any music videos that make you think, If I hear that song one more time, I’m gonna shoot myself?
I hate to knock her, but probably Avril Lavigne’s “Girlfriend.” I loved her first album because it was very authentic. Now I don’t know if I feel the same way about her. And the video. I have to watch that because it’s playing on all the monitors. Could have done without “Girlfriend.”
Now you’re acting in movies, including the recent Underdog. Do you have any great audition stories?
The L Word. Obviously I was auditioning to play a lesbian. I’ve never had a lesbian experience before, so that was interesting. I would have had to be nude and having full-on sex with a woman. Funny enough, I think I’d trust a woman more than a man in a sex scene. I don’t know, maybe it’s like the sisterhood thing.
As a recently married woman, can you debunk the myth that all girls are Bridezillas?
Well, I never thought I was going to get married. My husband really pushed for it to happen. He was like, “I’m sick of saying you’re my girlfriend. How about being my wife?” We felt like people didn’t take us seriously. They were like, Oh, she’s going to be somebody huge, and she’s going to dump this guy from Massachusetts.
Do you miss dating?
Not at all. I hate all the games, and I was never good at them anyway. I remember my friends saying, “You can’t call him yet! Wait a few days!” It was like, “Why? I like him, and I want to go to the movies.” And they were like, “Absolutely not.” Plus, I love spooning, and spooning is something you don’t get to do until you know each other well. I dated around for about a year before I met my husband. It sucked—I didn’t have anybody to spoon with.