October – Teen Vogue: Kat Power

With starring roles in two new comedies, Kat Dennings rocks the big screen.

Kat Dennings has a word of advice for parents: “If you love your kids and they ask you if they can act, say No, ” she explains, with her winning sarcasm, at a coffee house in Los Angeles. “You’re protecting them from a lifetime of rejection and pain.”

The 22-year-old, who has several major movies under her belt–including The 40 Year Old Virgin and Charlie Bartlett–didn’t give her father and mother, a biochemist and a speech therapist turned poet, respectively, much of a choice. “From ages three to ten I would not stop asking. Every day it was, Mom and Dad, please, please, please let me act, ” Kat recalls of her childhood in rural Pennyslvania.

Her big break came around fourteen when she played a brat who hires Samantha Jones to be the publicist for her bat mitzvah on Sex and the City. Kat, who grew up without cable, had never even heard of the series. But the role was a showy one, and Hollywood came calling.

With sorority house comedy The House Bunny and this month’s Nick and Norah’s Infinite Playlist, Kat–a genuinely unique, quirky chick–has officially arrived. In Nick and Norah, one of the cleverest teen films to hit screens in years, she plays the title character, who, over the course of one stressful night in New York City searching for a band’s “secret show,” falls for Nick (Michael Cera) and his eclectic mix CDs. “Norah is me. We’re both neurotic and we worry all the time,” says Kat. “I’m exactly like her.”

People who are no longer in my life wanted me to get a tan, fix my teeth, and get a breast reduction. No joke!

Hollywood types have asked her to change her looks, which are about as far from bottled blonde as you can get, but she won’t. “People who are no longer in my life wanted me to get a tan, fix my teeth, and get a breast reduction. No joke! At sixteen, someone told me to do that,” she explains. Instead she beats to her own drummer: She is obsessed with geology, reads novels by Haruki Murakami, cites Anjelica Huston as the actor she’d most like to work with, blogs about Viggo Mortensen, and is at work on a screenplay with her 29-year-old brother Geoffrey.

Though these things might classify Kat as one of the hipper actors of her generation, when asked, she muses, “What is hip?” And then insists, “Me and hip? We don’t mix.”