She was not even a year old when Beverly Hills, 90210 first premiered on October 4th, 1990, but Toronto native Shenae Grimes is well versed in the 90210 world. Guided by her mother — a longtime fan of the drama — Grimes grew up on the reruns and says it’s always been her favorite show. Playing Annie Wilson, the 16-year-old daughter of Harry and Debbie Wilson, who move from Kansas to Beverly Hills in The CW’s new 90210 spin off, Shenae is well aware of the fact that she is, well, new Brenda…
So, you’re a huge of fan of 90210.
Yeah, I first heard about [the spin off] on Perez[Hilton.com], and my friend called me and was like, Oh my gosh [screaming], because we’re
like obsessed with the show and still watch all of the reruns on a daily
basis. It’s like our joke: "So what’d you do tonight?" "Uh,
nothing really, just hung out with Kel and Brenda…" Whatever,
we’re so lame. So I heard about [the spin off] and I was like super excited to watch it
in the Fall. That was it, that was all. And then, you know, my agent mentioned
the audition and I was just like, Okay, whatever, nice idea, I’ll do it one day. And then,
the next week he was like, Okay, they’ve already cast Annie and
tomorrow is the last day you can put down Silver [on tape], so do it. And I
was like, Whatever. Like honestly, I never thought anyone would watch
the tape, let alone would I get a call back, let alone would it lead
to a screen test, let alone that I’d be here today. So it was in the
back of my mind, and I rushed around — I was interning at the time, so
I was doing some hosting stuff for the show — and just barely made
it to the tape place before they closed. I whipped out Silver, never thought
about it again. But the next day, I was walking out of a photo shoot and saw that
I had a bunch of missed calls and they
were like, They want you to read for Annie, they want you to put down
Annie [on tape] and if they like it, then they want to fly you out this weekend! And it
was Friday and I was like, Oh my… What?! What? What? It was such
a shock to my system and things just kind of happened really quickly.
So you knew pretty soon after that that the part was yours?
Oh, no. After that,
there was like three weeks of waiting and so I just kind of wrote it off and was like, Okay you didn’t get it, whatever, going back to my interning. I mean, I’m an
actor, but it’s not my only passion and I’m very realistic about the
whole business. I love doing it and I’d love to make a living off
of it forever but, lets be real here, it’s one of the most fickle
industries in the world. So yeah, I didn’t even talk about [the audition] with anybody because
there’s no point. An audition’s an audition. Until you get it and
you’re on set, there’s no point in telling everybody. And then I
got it. The world works in mysterious ways. You know, Hilary [Duff] was out and I
was in. And next thing you know, it’s everywhere. It’s been
a crazy whirlwind.
Yeah I can imagine, especially
as a fan of the show.
When you auditioned for Annie were you like, um, this
is new Brenda…?
Yeah. Totally. It was hilarious. I couldn’t believe that I was doing it and it was
so surreal to me because the show is just so relevant in my mind. Like I said, I’ve
been a fan forever, and still watch it. So I couldn’t believe that
they were doing a new thing and I was, you know, a part of it. It’s so weird to
me when I’m on set and I see the signs. I’m like, right,
90210… Da Na Na Na, Da Na Na Na. Like, weird!
And you’re shooting at the same location as the original West Beverly High, yeah?
Yes! We shot in El Segundo at Torrance High School, which is so cool! I was like tripping out, walking through the quad like, this is so weird! The whole cast looks at
me like, you’re such a loser. And I’m like, you have no idea how exciting
this is for a fan, ok?!
Yeah, as a die hard 9-0 fan, I’m actually thankful there’s someone in the cast who can appreciate how cool it is.
Yeah! I can’t believe
I’m the only one. Like, hello, where were you guys?! Yeah, we were
young, but whatever.
Did you have a favorite
character growing up?
Dylan McKay, obviously. Every girl’s fantasy, right? And I loved Brenda too.
Oh, good, you’re
a Brenda girl, not a Kelly girl.
Kelly stole Dylan, so…
Thank you! I was waiting
for them to get back together forever, and then she was gone and it’s
a sad, sad story. Dylan and Brenda should have been together forever.
So how excited are you that Shannen Doherty is on the show?
Uh, yeah. Hi! Oh my gosh.
Like, Jennie [Garth] was cool and I was freaking out about that. And I freaked
out when I found out Nat was back. I met Joey [Tata] and it
was just like, Oh my gosh, I know who you are, you don’t need
to introduce yourself to me! But Shannen, man,
that’s my be-all-end-all right there. And she’s playing
the guest director of the play, and I’m in the play, so we actually
get to work together, which is frickin wild. I just sit there in awe and try to soak it all in.
As a 90210 fan/expert of sorts, do you ever see things in the scripts that may be historically inaccurate? And if so, do you give the producers notes?
Oh, believe me, I’ve almost
stepped on a few people’s toes over a few things, but I do know the history very well and, as fans, we get protective when facts aren’t straight, you know?
And then, I’m like, Oh wait, maybe they know what they’re doing,
so maybe I should just sit here and shut up.
No, you should tell them
when things are wrong.
They’ve been pretty
good though, they’ve done their homework.
anything — tonally or storyline-wise — that you hope to see happen for Annie?
I guess I just want to make
sure that they keep a sort of spunk in her alive. Like, yes she’s a good girl from Kansas, but she’s
a teenage girl and she’s got a strong head and a strong heart and I don’t want her to fall victim
to this one note of "new kid, peer pressure blah blah blah." But I totally trust [executive producers] Gabe [Sachs]
and Jeff [Judah] and all of their choices. They’re brilliant
storytellers and writers, so I don’t think I really have to worry about anything.
And, I mean, they’re so awesome about everything. We all feel very
connected to the characters that we’re playing, so they are open to
listening to anything we have to say and that’ll continue and progress
as the season goes on I’m sure. So we’re in good hands.
Yes, good pedigree, Freaks & Geeks.
Right? And that’s the
most exciting part of the show. It has the same commercial value
and glam appeal of Gossip Girl, OC, those kind of shows, but at the same time — because we have these show runners —
they’re bringing Freaks and Geeks quality to The CW’s table, which
is something I don’t think anyone’s done before. They’ll bring a reality and a rawness to this that you haven’t seen
on those shows before. But [still] very glamorized.