By Jake Parker > Junior > English > University of South Florida-St. Petersburg
Photo By Jenna Rae Leonard > Junior > Marketing & Studio Art > University of Tampa
Shenae Grimes is taking Beverly Hills by storm. This former Degrassi star is taking on the new role of Annie Wilson—a small-town girl new to the bright lights and big city action of Los Angeles—on CW’s spin-off series 90210. Grimes, 20, is also the face of L.e.i’s Model Citizen Campaign, a nationwide search for the girl who embodies “life, energy and intelligence.” Grand prize winners will win an internship with Teen Vogue, a $100,000 scholarship and a trip to Los Angeles. We got a chance to catch up with the busy young Canadian fashionista during her visit to Florida International University.
CM: What fueled your desire to start acting?
Shenae Grimes: I always liked being center stage, like I was that kid who was always liked the little model, or the dancer, or the singer (even though I can’t sing at all). I was in dance recital classes and music theater classes, I was approached by an agent after one of the recitals . . . I [thought] ‘Well, I need a summer gig I guess, I’m not going to camp, so uh, sure.’ Then I was going to drop it when I got into school, but a few months into auditioning I landed my role on Degrassi, so my passion kind of grabbed me over from there.
CM: So were you planning to go to college before landing your role on 90210? What would you want to major in?
SG: I planned to go to an American college because Canada has amazing programs, but I felt like American schools had a more liberal approach to their majors. You can kind of study a bunch of things and figure it out along the way. I would love to study all sorts of different fashion stuff and writing. Some journalism, some fashion marketing, some design, some communications . . . a little bit of everything. I was actually studying for my SAT’s when I got the job [on 90210].
CM: Wow, talk about a good study break.
SG: I was just writing my flash cards and I didn’t know if I should keep writing them or what I should do, it was really funny.
CM: How was the transition for you when you arrived in Los Angeles?
SG: It was my first time away from home. It was my first time living out of the house. It was my first time being in a different country for an extended period of time, so it was all new. I think at that age I needed something that was going to make a change for me. I didn’t have the plateau to do all of the creative things that I wanted to do and now feel I do.
CM: How alike are you to Annie on 90210?
SG: Not at all, at all! I think she’s got this kind of dry humor developing that I kind of identify with and find really fun to play with but aside from that, you know, she’s a naive teenage girl. I guess having a career since 14 makes you grow up quick.
CM: So is it easier to play her character?
SG: You can’t pretend to know what you don’t but you also can’t pretend to not know what you don’t. So it’s hard to kind of shake that off and lose that somewhat jaded perspective.
CM: What do you do on your time away from the set?
SG: I just hang out with my friends, cook dinner, go to flea markets. I try to scour all the vintage shops in L.A. It’s a lot of fun, there’s lots of great vintage there.