Despite a first name mirroring that of a certain Deutsch automaker, Mercedes Luna used to drive a Honda. Not just any Honda, but a modified Civic. Say word? Word. Growing up in Rosamond, CA, by way of Mexicali, Mexico, Mercedes would cruise the local street races with her brother and even partake in a few. Outlaw? Maybe. But take those qualities and combine them with an exotic look resembling a young Eva Longoria, and this is one Mercedes that belongs on the cover of 2NR.
Mercy . . . may I call you Mercy?
That's what my friends call me, but yes, as long as you don't break out trying to sing Marvin Gaye.
We'll save that for a drunken karaoke night. Were you born in the States?
No, I was born in Mexicali, which is in Baja Mexico. I came to California when I was 12 years old.
Explains the cute accent. What was the first English word you learned?
It wasn't a word but a sentence: 'I don't speak English'. [laughs]
Quite possibly the most important, yet oxymoronic phrase to learn in any foreign language.
[laughs] I can attest to that. When I came to the States, I didn't speak English at all, so I would freak out every time someone would try to communicate with me. The minute a person would open their mouth to say something, I'd blurt out, 'I don't speak English'.
Where in Cali did you move?
We moved an hour and a half north of Los Angeles. First to Palmdale and shortly after to Rosamond.
Rosamond? As in Willow Springs Raceway?
It was probably the coolest place in sixty square miles. I used to get excited every time there was a big race-that meant there would be a lot of people coming to our small town, creating some kind of action.
Were you into cars, growing up?
Yes! Growing up, imports were very popular-it was all about who had the fastest car in town.
What did you used to drive?
My first car was a Honda Civic. I remember I wanted to make it look cool as soon as I got it, so I added clear corners. [laughs]
Did you do anything else to your Civic?
It's funny because my brother used to read Import Tuner all the time, which was where he used to get all his ideas for my car. We ended up swapping out the wheels, intake, exhaust, header, and suspension.
So how did a girl from Antelope Valley get into modeling?
I rolled like a tumble weed into the local mall when I was 16 and they had a scout looking for new talent, which was when I started my portfolio. At 19, I was invited to a Lakers game and was fortunate enough to meet owner, Dr. Jerry Buss, who asked me to be one of their models.
What stuff did you do with the Lakers?
I had a photoshoot on the basketball court and took some amazing pics for a calendar promotion they were working on. I also did Spanish announcements for Laker TV.
The Ariza-for-Artest trade; were you for it or against it?
I think Ariza was a huge spark last season and a big part why we won it all . . . too bad the Lakers gave his money to Artest. But Artest is hungry for a ring, so maybe he'll help us get two championships in a row. Let's just hope no one in L.A. spills beer on him! [laughs]
Other than the Lakers, what were some other gigs you've had?
I did some stuff with Rockstar, Mazdaspeed, and was Miss Makita. Working for Makita was a lot of fun. I got to travel nationwide.
If you had to pick one power tool, what would it be and why?
[Laugh] Probably a power screwdriver. Because screwing is practical and fun.
Word . . . ?
Hey! Get your mind out the gutter! [laughter]
You also made appearances on my favorite summer vacation program-The Price is Right!
I did! Being a Barker girl was a lot of fun. I loved being on the set and seeing how happy and excited people were, trying to win the prizes.
A burning question: No matter how great the first batch of Showcase Showdown prizes looked, why was the second set always better?
Like everything else, you have to save the best for last! It's part of the teasing process that keeps you interested and wanting more!
That was almost profound! Almost. Let's go back to your roots-what do you miss most about Mexico?
I miss the traditional atmosphere. I feel that people in Mexico are very humble and very welcoming. They always want to feed you. Every time I go to a relative's house, after they ask how I am, the next question is always, "are you hungry?" And I definitely miss the authentic food.
Can you cook Mexican food?
Of course! I learned from my grandmother who was the best cook, ever. My favorite dish to make is enchiladas rancheras. Guaranteed to make you say, "yum!"
Why not? Bad experience?
I got really sick once! I feel like they're not very clean.
Do you go back to Mexico to visit?
I love seeing my family but they live near the border and it's scary because some of the people over there get gangster!
Example, por favor?
I was driving home after a late night of partying with my girl cousin, and I accidentally drove the wrong way down a one-way street . . .
So is this a story about how you drive like a gangster?
[laughs] No! It's a story of how I was almost at my cousin Araseli's house when a guy pulls up in another car, yelling at me to turn around. When my cousin argued that we were almost home and to leave us alone, the crazy dude jumped out of his car and pulled a gun. My cousin started yelling, 'You better be ready to pull the trigger if you pull a gun,' followed by me screaming at my cousin, 'Shut up and get back in the car!'
Let's just say we took the long way back. [laughs]
For the ultimate plot twist, you're one-eighth Japanese, correct?
How the hell did that happen?
My grandfather on my mother's side of the family was half Spanish and half Japanese.
The fixed-up Civic? Totally explains it.
Ethnicity: Mexican, Japanese
Birthday: March 31st
Hometown: Mexicali, Mexico
Thanks: My grandmother for all the great advice, my mom for kicking my butt to always do better, my brother and sis for always being there for me, my best friends for always motivating me, my long-time career consultant Daniel Garite, and my agents Pacific Talent and Maier Management for believing in me.