It’s a tale as old as Brenda – An innocent young girl moves to Beverly Hills and enters a world of drama she never knew existed. For Shenae Grimes, AccessHollywood.com‘s new Rising Star, it’s a story of art imitating life as she takes on the role of Annie, a Kansas high schooler who transfers to West Beverly Hills High in the rebooted “90210” – recalling one Brenda Walsh’s arrival from Minnesota on the original series.
Toronto-born Shenae has made a move of her own recently, leaving Canada and her role as Darcy Edwards on “Degrassi: The Next Generation” for Los Angeles and the media frenzy of “90210.” The CW show debuts on Tuesday, Sept. 2, at 8 PM.
“Everyone keeps saying, are you ready, are you ready,” Shenae told Access. “When I got this, my whole life changed. It changed overnight. I was some kid from Canada and Hollywood seemed very unattainable from there.”
The exuberant actress was certainly ready to accept the title of Rising Star, following in the footsteps of fellow “90210” actress AnnaLynne McCord.
“That’s so flattering!” she said. “I hope I can fill her shoes.”
It’s hard not to see the parallels between the wholesome Annie and the sweet, sociable Shenae, who calls Annie’s move from Kansas to Beverly Hills a transition to “a new world.”
“The major thing with Annie is that she struggles with values vs. peer pressure,” she said. “The values of the kids that she’s now going to school with are very different than the ones that she was raised with so [she tries] to balance that out and kind of enlighten other peers and try and help them see what right and wrong really means.”
But this being “90210,” audiences know that may not last for long.
“You’ll see her fumble with her own set of values and get a little bit caught up in some troubling ways,” Shenae admitted.
Not so for Shenae, who found out about landing the role while studying for the SAT.
“I was writing SAT vocab flash cards in my dining room [and] I received a buffer phone call from my agent saying, ‘It is what it is, we may have to move on, start looking at other scripts.’ And I was like, alright, fine. 20 minutes later I got a phone call from all of my agents saying ‘Congratulations, you are Annie on ‘90210!’”
Unfortunately for Shenae, no one was home to share her big break.
“Or picking up their cell phones,” she said. “Finally my mom came and picked up the phone. I got all my best friends over; we kind of just sat there in shock for a little while. I couldn’t believe that it actually had been a yes.”
She has no doubt that audiences will be similarly excited for the show, hinting, “You got a lot to look forward to.”
One thing audiences won’t need to watch out for? On-set drama on the “90210” lot, which Shenae says the show’s new incarnation has left behind.
“I can’t believe how close we are,” she said. “You know, I’ve been part of major cast before, and it’s a lot like high school a lot of the times, but we are the only ones experiencing what we are experiencing right now, so it’s hard not to bond and really lean on each other. When you are each other’s sole support system there is not much time for hate.”
But there’s always room for romance on the show, with Annie finding a love interest early on.
“I saw the first episode and I didn’t have one and I was like, what, come on, you gotta give me my Dylan or something,” she said. “They brought in a love interest — he’s a music theater dude, right up Annie’s alley.”
From there, Shenae says it’s business as usual in Beverly Hills.
“Of course you know she falls head over heals and drama ensues,” she smiled.