SHENAE GRIMES-BEECH

The Gem­ini Award–win­ning ac­tress on life af­ter 90210, her re­cent mar­riage to Bri­tish mu­si­cian Josh Beech and the joy of grow­ing up in Mid­town

Midtown Post - - Front Page - by Martha Wor­boy

The Gem­ini Award–win­ning ac­tress on life af­ter 90210, her re­cent mar­riage to Bri­tish mu­si­cian Josh Beech and the joy of grow­ing up in Mid­town

Like the char­ac­ters that made her fa­mous, Shenae Grimes-Beech also had a lo­cal high school hang­out, though it was a bit dif­fer­ent than the Peach Pit on 90210 or the Dot café on De­grassi: The Next Gen­er­a­tion.

Grimes-Beech — who grew up in For­est Hill — chuck­les over the phone from Los Angeles and ex­plains that her spot was the Pizza Pizza at Eglin­ton and Bathurst.

It was a place, GrimesBeech says, where she and her friends would go sim­ply to be some­where.

“You’re at that age where you want to go out, but you can’t re­ally go any­where just yet, so that was where my friends and I could con­gre­gate and hang out.”

Grimes- Beech, who at­tended nearby For­est Hill Col­le­giate, also re­mem­bers fre­quent­ing an old school diner in For­est Hill Vil­lage where she and other class­mates would go ev­ery day for gravy and fries.

Now based in Los Angeles, hang­ing out in din­ers or cafés for the Cana­dian celeb of­ten means also be­ing pho­tographed by the pa­parazzi.

Fame hap­pened fast for Grimes- Beech, who was an ac­tor based in Toronto when — at the age of 18 — she landed the role of An­nie Wil­son on 90210, the CW spinoff of the ’ 90s teen soap and cul­tural sen­sa­tion.

Grimes-Beech was cast as a teen who moves from Kansas to Beverly Hills with her fam­ily (sim­i­lar to the Shan­nen Do­herty char­ac­ter in the orig­i­nal se­ries), and within about two weeks the ac­tress her­self had

re­lo­cated to Hol­ly­wood where she starred on the show for its en­tire five sea­sons.

Up to that point, Grimes-Beech was known to Cana­dian au­di­ences as Darcy Ed­wards, a trou­bled stu­dent on De­grassi: The Next

Gen­er­a­tion, a role she played for four sea­sons and for which she won a Gem­ini.

Grimes- Beech says that al­though she didn’t plan for an act­ing ca­reer, she al­ways felt com­pelled to show off and be the cen­tre of at­ten­tion. She also loved to dance, and so her mom en­rolled her — at the age of 13 — in the weekly triple threat pro­gram at the Ran­dolph Academy for the Per­form­ing Arts at Bathurst and Bloor.

It was af­ter one of her show­cases there that an agent ap­proached her ( the same agent that still rep­re­sents her to this day), and she be­gan go­ing on pro­fes­sional au­di­tions.

When she landed a commercial, she says, she had the re­al­iza­tion that she could make a liv­ing out of per­form­ing.

“I thought, ‘ I can get paid “to do some­thing fun and amaz­ing.’” But, she says, she didn’t truly start to learn her craft un­til she got the role on De­grassi.

“It was an ac­tor’s boot camp,” she says about work­ing on the show. “We worked fast and pro­duced a lot of con­tent, and I was able to learn about my process.”

She was also part of a tal­ented cre­ative team that in­cluded Aubrey Drake Gra­ham, a young ac­tor/rap­per also from For­est Hill, who has since ex­ploded onto the world mu­sic scene.

“De­grassi was a com­ing of age pas­sage that Toronto- based ac­tors strived to be a part of,” she says.

But while De­grassi helped GrimesBeech hone her act­ing skills, she says that noth­ing could have pre­pared her for the at­ten­tion she would re­ceive in mov­ing to Hol­ly­wood as the star of a much-an­tic­i­pated spinoff se­ries.

“I wish some­one had warned me,” Grimes-Beech says. “Ev­ery­one comes out here and wants this but — I’m not go­ing to lie — it was hard.”

“At 18, hav­ing a lot of s*** said about you — and I’m out [in Los Angeles] on my own. It was a big re­al­ity check, but I’m glad it all hap­pened — it made me stronger,” she says.

Grimes-Beech says the hype and me­dia craze that sur­rounded her when the show pre­miered made her reclu­sive for a time.

She says she got through it by work­ing hard and vent­ing to her mom back home in Toronto each day on the phone.

It wasn’t un­til she met her nowhus­band, Bri­tish mu­si­cian Josh Beech, that she be­gan to feel more at peace with her life in Los Angeles.

“Meet­ing him felt so awe­some,” she says. “To have a real con­nec­tion and real laughs … it made me see what hap­pi­ness is and that it doesn’t have to be as­so­ci­ated with a ca­reer.”

Grimes-Beech and Beech met at a mu­tual friend’s get-to­gether in New York and had an in­stant con­nec­tion.

“I’ve never laughed so hard with some­one and felt so chal­lenged — I have a dry sense of hu­mour and a mouth on me, and he is sharp and witty and un­afraid to put me in my place.”

Af­ter a few lengthy long dis­tance phone calls, Beech moved to Los Angeles, and Grimes-Beech says they are rarely apart.

The cou­ple were mar­ried just over a year ago at a Tu­dor manor in the English coun­try­side near Lon­don. Grimes- Beech wore a black Vera Wang wed­ding dress.

She and Beech doc­u­ment their lives and their in­ter­ests — namely mu­sic and fash­ion — through the blog they share, aptly ti­tled Two Halves.

Grimes says work­ing to­gether cre­atively in this way has been a learn­ing ex­pe­ri­ence for both of them.

“It makes you grow as a cou­ple on a per­sonal level to be able to com­pro­mise. And it’s been fun for us — we’re al­ways com­ing up with ideas and go­ing on tan­gents and cut­ting each other off. ”

Grimes- Beech re­cently brought Beech to see where she grew up in Toronto. She’s also vis­it­ing here more of­ten since she’s been ap­pointed the brand am­bas­sador for the Cana­dian beauty line Annabelle Cos­met­ics.

“I was so ex­cited when that op­por­tu­nity arose — I grew up al­ways go­ing to Shop­pers and get­ting the eye­liner, so I have a sense of nos­tal­gia con­nected to the brand,” she says.

As well as re­cent work on films such as Scream 4 and a Life­time Movie Net­work project en­ti­tled Fi­nal

Exam (Grimes-Beech plays a woman who has lost her short- term mem­ory), she has also be­gun ex­plor­ing an­other pas­sion of hers — the world of fash­ion — com­plet­ing an in­tern­ship at Teen Vogue in the not-so-dis­tant past.

With Grimes-Beech’s suc­cess at an early age it would be un­der­stand­able if she re­mained in Hol­ly­wood, but she says she har­bours a dream to one day re­turn to Canada to con­tinue her ca­reer.

“Canada has so much to of­fer and is so true to its talent. [ The Cana­dian in­dus­try] doesn’t try to change artists into what will sell. I re­spect that.”

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