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Shenae Grimes on Being "The New Brenda" (or Not) on 90210

Shenae Grimes on Being "The New Brenda" (or Not) on 90210

One week from today, we'll get to see what this updated 90210 is really all about. For some more hints, I spent some time at the TCA press tour chatting with star Shenae Grimes — who previously played Darcy Edwards on Degrassi: The Next Generation — about her role as Annie Wilson, the new girl in the hottest zip code around. Here are highlights:

Did you ever watch the original 90210?
Yeah, my mom raised me on that show. I watched it all my life.

So what did you think when you first heard there was going to be a new 90210?
I thought, awesome! Super excited to watch it. And then when they called me to audition on tape, I was like, ha! OK, whatever, if I can find the time — it doesn't matter if I put it down or not, cause no one's gonna see it, whatever. And I crammed to put it down one day, got a call the next day saying — I actually auditioned for Silver originally, and then I got a call the next day saying, "They want to try you out for Annie." I was like, what? Whoa, hold on, step back for a minute. Literally never thought I'd hear anything ever again. I didn't even think the tape would get watched. But things happened, and here I am, and it's the most surreal thing in the world for a kid from Canada.

You did several seasons on Degrassi. Being a kid from Canada, where Degrassi is a big deal, what was that like?
Degrassi's the be-all and end-all for Toronto's youth actors. There's not a lot of great material at home, and the stuff that there is, it's cute, but you're always playing 14-year-olds. No one has roles that are hearty and challenging for young actors there. So Degrassi was really it. I mean, that's the show that everybody's trying to get on. I finally did, and I had to work my way up the food chain, and it took me a few years to "prove myself" for my producers, but I finally did, and I felt like, seventh season, I had the best storylines in the world. It doesn't get much more challenging than that. I felt like it was time for me to, you know, step off a little bit and let some of the new kids come in, cause it's the pinnacle for young actors.

More from Grimes on Degrassi and 90210, so


The sense that I always had is that Degrassi in Canada is sort of like what 90210 was here.
Oh, absolutely. And I couldn't be more proud of both. I look at Degrassi as like my boot camp to prepare me for this. It was a groundbreaking thing. You couldn't throw more at a high school student, and they did it — they brought things to the table that people hadn't seen on TV before.

So, tell me a little bit about Annie.
Annie's the Kansas City gal who's been picked up by her dad and thrust into the Hollywood life for her grandma. The whole point is you're watching her and the journey that she takes, this crazy new world, the transition that she's making and how she handles it all. It's a big, big change. Everyone's asking me, "What did you do to prepare for the role?" and I'm like, "I'm doing it right now, man!" I'm from this small town and coming to Hollywood. And we don't have celebrity back home, there's no such thing as that! So this is a new world for me, too, and I'm trying to meander my way through it.

A lot of people are looking at the show and going, "Oh, she's the Brenda." Do you think that's fair? Can you do that with this show?
No — I mean, obviously, it's a family, and I'm the daughter, and so they will say that, which is totally cool and fine. But no, all the characters are very new and very different, not based on anybody. They've got a lot more layers, and they're not as stereotypical and one-note, necessarily, as they were before because kids have a lot more going on these days than they did back then.

Were any of the people in your cast people you had watched as a fan? I know for us in the US, Lori Laughlin is Full House —
Aunt Becky, are you kidding me? I saw her at the screen test, and I was like, "Oh my God, I saw Aunt Becky!" I didn't even put it together that they were casting her as the mom, and we totally look alike! I couldn't ask for better fake parents — I'm very flattered. And I've got Rob Estes as my dad. Hello, I watched Melrose Place growing up, so I was a big fan. And, you know, Freaks and Geeks with the producers, and I'm catching up on The Wire now.

OK, so sell me on the new 90210. Best reason to watch?
Everything about it's going to be amazing — the clothes and the music and the storylines and the actors. If that all doesn't entertain you, there will be much more that will. It's going to be a hot, hot show, and we're going to live up to everyone's expectations and then some.

Photos Source and courtesy of The CW

Join The Conversation
Crikey Crikey 8 years
Aaron Spelling would have been livid by this choice in actress for this part. This lady cant act for s@#t!!! Im have always been a dedicated 90210 fan and have watched every episode of the original series when I was younger. Gotta give Jennie Garth and Shannon Doherty credit, their performances are still awesome, even Ann Gillespie still has it, but this choice of Shenae Grimes for lead they need their heads read. She is so fake, her actings appalling, you don't believe a word that comes out of her mouth and her stupid little giggles like shes trying to be nice grrr, its like someone scraping their nails down the blackboard. I just hope Tori comes back and has some say in this, seeing it was her Dads show Shenae is destroying and throws her ass right out of there before the show ends up as another failed remake. Grimes is right...Grimey performance!
angelinemarie angelinemarie 8 years
i love shenae! she so talented and beautiful like many other people, i saw little previews of 90210 on trl and to be honest im not that impressed. its looks like its not even going to be that good. but wait until it premiers, ill be eating my words... ahha
Allytta Allytta 8 years
couldn't they find someone better for this part? Being new Brenda is fenomenal, and this girl is aweful, she ruined all degrassi experience for me. Hope she gets thrown out of the show. That lovely girl from Nip/Tuck is amazing, the sexiest thing on earth pretty ruthless and very talented, she's the new Brenda.
ms-jamerz ms-jamerz 8 years
I had a love-hate thing with her character on Degrassi. She was a goody-good-bossy-jesus freak. Then something happened to her character and then she was the messed-up-compulsive liar-girl. She was ofcourse playing a role and isn't at all like her "annoying" character. I'm going to check out 90210 to support my fellow Canadian and also to see how she takes on this new role.
Bisque Bisque 8 years
She reads annoying to me. I have to catch that show for a few eps though, I wanna see Brenda back. Yes, I miss her. :P
californiagirlx7 californiagirlx7 8 years
Shenae Grimes seems annoying and my sister said that she was really irritating on Degrassi (I never watched the show). I'm still going to watch the show, but I thought her comment about how teens are more "multi-dimensional" nowadays, in contrast to teenagers in the '90s, was a bit baffling.
wickedlanie wickedlanie 8 years
I did watch the old 90210 and really liked it. I've seen a few eps of Degrassi and couldn't stand Grimes. I definitely won't be watching this new show.
LolaSvelt LolaSvelt 8 years
She seems very into her role. Good for her. I hope she's right about the characters not being one-note.
berrypeachie berrypeachie 8 years
Her necklace looks cute! I might catch onto this series... who knows.
Swen Swen 8 years
Don't watch Degrassi and didn't watch 90210, but this was interesting to read- but yeah, her comment on kids being more multi-dimensional now was naive and funny. I'm going to try watching the new 90210. I hope it's good, but I don't have any expectations.
Linda-McP Linda-McP 8 years
Great interview, Buzz. I'll give 90210 a chance this season, especially now that I know "Michael" from The Wire is in it.
LaurenG22 LaurenG22 8 years
I mean, :irk:
LaurenG22 LaurenG22 8 years
Yep, she is right, kids back in the 90s really were one dimensional and didn't do anything worth noting. :eyeroll:
lovekailua lovekailua 8 years
hmmm I had a lot going on back then, thank you very much. maybe not technology wise but we had plenty. i'll give this show a few episodes to see.
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