Playing a fetching teen vixen isn’t that glamorous. Just ask Monica Keena, whose Dawson’s Creek character triggers some provocative reactions. “I’ve gotten letters from correctional institutions,” says Keena. “One guy wrote and said, ‘I’m not writing you because I think you’re a good actress. I just think you’re sexy as hell!’ I don’t know how to respond to that,” she adds laughing.
Her admirer’s sentiment seems to extend beyond prison walls. As vampy troublemaker Abby Morgan, Keena, 19, is making a splash in Dawson’s Creek, the WB’s hit teen drama. “Monica is very sarcastic and funny,” says her costar Katie Holmes (Joey Potter). “At table reads, she delivers her lines with attitude. I’m still kind of scared of her.”
Keena’s sass comes by way of Bay Ridge, Brooklyn, the blue-collar area in which she grew up. The younger daughter of Bill, a financial sales manager, and Mary, a nurse, Monica began acting in grammar school plays. In high school she landed the title role in CBS’s A Promise Kept: The Oksana Baiul Story in 1994. Then came a small part in last year’s The Devil’s Advocate. “She can come on like a beggar, and then she can turn the glamor on,” says Advocate director Taylor Hackford. “I expect great things from her.”
After her Advocate role came Dawson’s Creek, which has put her college plans on hold. She’s delighted though to be a prime-time player, splitting time between Wilmington, N.C., and a one-bedroom Manhattan apartment. But she’s still adjusting to fandom’s vagaries. “This little girl,” says Keena, “came up to me and said, ‘All my friends hate you!’ Then added, ‘Can I get your autograph?’ ”