As Michael Lee on The
Wire, Tristan Wilds dealt with some heavy material: sexual abuse, a drug-addicted mother and having to take responsibility for his little brother. Now playing Dixon Wilson, the adopted son of high school principal Harry Wilson and his wife Debbie on The CW’s 90210 spin off, Wilds new fictional world couldn’t be more different. I mean, he is basically the 21st century’s Brandon Walsh. I recently caught up with Tristan to see what he thinks of all this…
You’re coming off a critically acclaimed series in which you portrayed a pretty serious character. How do you feel about transitioning to a nighttime soap opera? Do you think the writers will give you material worthy of your talents?
You know, we have some of
the best writers on the show. Working with [show runners] Gabe [Sachs] and Jeff [Judah],
I am positive that they’re going to take advantage of any kind
of acting abilities that I have. They’re writing
some really good material that’s actually very relevant to
everything going on in the world right now — you know, stuff that
teenagers are going through everyday — so you’ll definitely get a sense
You’re probably too young to have been familiar with the original 90210, yeah? Did you have any knowledge of the show before you were cast?
I actually watched a little
bit of it, I knew the characters and everything. It was one
of those things where, you know, you’re laying on the couch watching cartoons, big sister comes in, sits on your back, takes the remote control from you and
changes the channel. So I’d seen two or three episodes — I knew the storylines, I knew the love
interests and it was nuts, it was a frenzy, the show — But
I never really got into it until after I got the role.
So your older sister is a fan?
My older sister and my cousin,
they would both watch it together, so I actually had two people sitting on my
What did they
think when they found out you were cast in the spin off?
It was funny because when
I got cast for the role, I didn’t tell anybody. I came home, and my cousin was there, and I said, Dana, what would
you think if I told you they were coming out with a brand new 90210?
She was like, Oh my gosh! Oh my gosh! It was like my favorite show,
I was such a big Brenda fan. And I said, What would you say if I was
on it? And she [screamed], Oh my gosh! Stop playing. Oh my gosh, Tristan, stop playing!
And my sister ran out [screaming], Oh my gosh! They were going crazy for
about an hour.
That is awesome. So, what do you make of your character, Dixon?
I think Dixon
is a very real character. You see characters like him in real life everyday,
because it’s not that unordinary to have a child of a different race
in your house nowadays. You could have a little brother who’s
Asian and a little sister who’s like Afghanistani or something. So to be adopted and be a diverse part of this family, it’s not
that different. What I’d like to see come out of him is regular teenager stuff. You’ll get to
see his playful side. You’ll get to see that he may go through some problems
and that he likes girls and wants to pursue girls and all that. He has the
mindset of a real teenager who has just moved to Beverly Hills and is seeing some new things.
You’re actually living through a similar experience right now, no? You just moved to L.A.?
Exactly, because I’m from
New York — Staten Island — and you would never expect a Staten Island
boy like me to move from S.I. to Beverly Hills. I’m going through
it just like Dixon’s going through it, which is why I’m glad I’m not
from here, because [if I was from here] I wouldn’t be able to portray this experience in the same way.
And how are
you finding L.A. so far?
You know, so far, it’s
cool. The beaches are to die for. But it’s pretty spread out. You just gotta have a GPS or something.