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'Graceland' Star Vanessa Ferlito Is a Seriously Hands-on Hollywood Mom

Like most actresses, Vanessa Ferlito was excited to have her 7-year-old son Vince on set recently. Everything was great until she actually started to film scenes.

"It was a little gory, and he was totally traumatized," she recalls of seeing his wide-eyed gaze. "I was like, no way! I immediately sent him home."

Chances are, he won't get to watch what his mommy does for many years to come. Ferlito is the star of USA's gritty undercover drama "Graceland," which returns for season three on Thursday, June 25 at 10/9 Central time. To say her scenes are intense is an understatement.

For those of you who haven't become addicted to the show, here is a quick primer: Based on a true story, Graceland was the name given to a California beach house that was seized from a drug lord in the '90s and turned into a home base for undercover FBI and DEA agents. Ferlito's onscreen persona, Catherine "Charlie" DeMarco, has been attacked, shot at and basically faces life-and-death situations every episode.

I am a single mother. I have to work, and I am really grateful to have work.

This season, her character is dealing with an entirely new dilemma — being a pregnant agent. Though, it's actually the one aspect of Charlie's life that Ferlito can relate to. "I went back to work when Vince was 3 months old," she tells mom.me. "I am a single mother. I have to work, and I am really grateful to have work."

Many of us have the perception that celebrity moms have an army of nannies at their disposal so they can travel the world without a worry — not so with Ferlito. Where she goes, Vince goes.

"A lot of actors leave their kids. I can't do that," she reveals. "It's better that he's with me than me abandon him. Sometimes we are living in two different states at once, and it's extremely challenging. And that means he's always kind of the new kid, always trying to make new friends. But we are together, and I think it's teaching him a good work ethic."

Still, her decision, which has meant seven different schools in three years, has been harshly criticized. "It's always people without kids who say, 'It must be hard on him to move around so much.' You know what I say? 'No, it's hard living in parts of Africa where there is no water.' Yes, it's tough for him to wrap his head around it, but he's with me." She adds with a laugh, "Either way, no matter how good a mother you are, there is always an issue. Gotta screw them up somehow."

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She certainly knows what it's like to have a tenuous childhood. Her own father died when she was only 2 years old. "He wasn't well," she shares. "He was an addict. A great guy, from a great family, but he got into drugs and died very quickly. My mother worked two jobs and my nana helped raise me. It's probably for the best because to live with a junkie as a father — no telling how I would have turned out."

Her mother eventually remarried.

"My wonderful stepfather came along with his children. I didn't have any siblings, so it was lonely for me. Now I'm a single mom."

And that is her most cherished role yet. "I'm obsessed with my son," she gushes. "I take parenting to the fullest. I breastfed until he was 2. I'd pump all through the night and have a driver send it to him when I was working."

She even has some sage advice for fellow parents. "When they complain, 'I can't get my kids to be polite,' I shout back, 'YES, YOU CAN.' It's all about consistency," she says. "Every time I give Vince something, any time someone pours him water at a restaurant, I make him say thank you. He has to acknowledge every kindness. Kids in general don't say even say good morning, and parents don't correct them. I have such a sweet, wonderful child, and I'm really proud of that."

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