Shenae Grimes settles into star treatment
By Alex Strachan
January 13, 2009
Shenae Grimes says she’s developed a thick skin, when it comes to tabloid rumours. “I know who I am and I know what really happened and I know how fabricated the stories have gotten. How crazy they are, really. Out of mid-air,” she says.
WEST HOLLYWOOD, Calif. — The zip code may be 90036 and not 90210, but Shenae Grimes is enjoying her moment in the Southern California spotlight just the same.
Six months can be an eternity when you’re a 19-year-old from Toronto and the most high-profile role you had before you landed the lead role of Annie Wilson in the much talked-about Beverly Hills 90210 sequel 90210 was a hard-luck teenager in Degrassi: The Next Generation.
Grimes finds herself a quiet booth at 90210’s favoured hang out, the Peach Pit — actually West Hollywood’s Kokomo Cafe at the corner of Beverly Blvd. and Martel Avenue — and kicks back, looking fit and tanned and healthy, despite tabloid rumours that she’s battling an eating disorder.
Grimes shouldn’t really be talking about personal matters, but she’s naturally effusive. And when she learns her visitors are from home, she opens up. About everything.
Half an hour later, she’s still talking.
About how she’s stoked by her turn as Annie Wilson in 90210, “the new girl” freshly moved to Beverly Hills from Kansas. About how “totally awesome” it was to meet one of her childhood idols in person, original Beverly Hills 90210 player Shannen Doherty. About how “totally cool” her fellow 90210 players are, in person and onscreen. About how “stoked” she is by the southern Californian sunshine. No ice storms or freezing rain here.
Her family support group, her 90210 actor colleagues, the show’s writers-producers, and the network handlers have all helped smooth her transition from Toronto. They’ve been wonderful, Grimes says.
The tabloids? Not so much.
“I’ve got a thick skin already,” Grimes says quietly, after a while. “I know who I am and I know what really happened and I know how fabricated the stories have gotten. How crazy they are, really. Out of mid-air.”
Grimes may be out of her element — teenagers from Toronto rarely make the cover of Saturday Night Magazine — but she’s well-spoken and relaxed on this night. She has an energetic, lively vibe, but it’s a controlled, relaxed energy. She laughs easily. It’s a young woman’s laugh, not a teenager’s giggle.
“It’s nice being out in the sunshine every day,” she says. “It’s so snowy back in Toronto right now. When I wake up in sunshine every day, I really feel like that motivates me. Every day I wake up and I feel that anything can happen. I love being able to do everything that I can possibly do.”
Grimes has clearly taken to Los Angeles — “Omigod, I love Melrose” — but she rarely has time for anything but work. Her hours on 90210 are long, and she readily admits a lot of her off-time is spent sleeping. Television is notoriously demanding, and not every stage or screen actor makes the transition successfully.
“I eat in a lot because my hours are so long,” Grimes admits. “I order in a lot. I like to make myself dinner. Whatever works.”
Degrassi: The Next Generation is still close to her heart.
“Omigod, it was such a huge part of my life,” Grimes says. “It was my stomping ground for a very long time. I was taking baby steps, learning my craft, and it was such a safe place to land. Getting here happened so fast. This is such a huge process, and without Degrassi I don’t think I would have been prepared. I’m more comfortable. I know what to expect now. I don’t necessarily like it all. But I know what I’m in for now, and I can handle it.”
90210 airs Tuesdays on Global at 9 ET/PT and The CW at 8 ET/PT.
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