Shenae Grimes-Beech on Acting, Blogging, and Growing Up Degrassi

The Degrassi and 90210 actress stars in CTV's police drama, The Detail


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Shenae Grimes-Beech stars in police drama, The Detail.

Growing up on the set of Canada’s longest running teen drama comes with its own set of pros and cons. For Shenae Grimes-Beech, who got her start playing Darcy in Degrassi: The Next Generation at age 13, the job shaped her into the strong actor she is today, despite making her somewhat of an outsider during high school.

“I was not technically a regular character on that show until my fourth year on it,” Grimes-Beech says. “So I started really tiny and I had to work my way up, and then they gave me my own storyline for the first time, and that’s when I won the Gemini for it, and then they gave me a contract to be a regular on the show. So I really had to earn it, but it was good because it was like boot camp for me. You had to earn your stripes.”

Grimes-Beech spent her first two years of high school at Forest Hill C.I., then switched to Vaughan Road Academy’s Interact program for students with outside commitments. She says growing up Degrassi presented its own set of challenges, especially before she switched to a school with other working kids.

“When I was working, that kind of made me not fit in because girls are catty and I was all of the sudden on TV, so it was kind of like ‘let’s push her out’ kind of vibe, so I was really happy when I switched to Interact because kids were doing the same thing I was doing so I wasn’t weird,” she says.

After graduating from Degrassi High, Grimes-Beech moved on to star in the CW’s upgrade of 90210. When the show ended after five seasons in 2013, she retired from acting to pursue other interests in the fashion world.

Two years later, the Toronto native started to venture back into acting, but making a comeback proved to be more of a battle than she had anticipated. Grimes-Beech wanted to give voice to the twenty-something angst so commonly felt amongst millennials while sharing her love for fashion, so she started her blog, Lost in Lala, where she shares fashion, beauty and décor inspiration.

“I was just full of insecurity, so I started the blog because I was like, ‘surely I’m not the only twenty-something female feeling this way,’ and I said ‘you know what, if five people come here and feel some sense of camaraderie in all this and we can laugh at ourselves together, then great, I’m going to feel better.’”

She’s now garnered 335,000 Instagram followers, and recently soft-launched her own quarterly subscription box called The Badass Box. Grimes-Beech also launched a YouTube channel in October so she can create more video content—another talent she honed while working as a host with POPSUGAR Now.

“I was just saying this morning, I want to host a show in Canada. The POPSUGAR stuff was cool because it was different, having to present yourself with a certain kind of energy all the time,” she says. “It’s a lot of work, I think it would keep me on my toes but I would love to do it on home turf. I love the talent that comes out of Toronto. I’m still like the girl at Our Lady Peace who’s jumping up and down, so I would love to support the homegrown talent.”

Grimes-Beech has been back on home soil recently filming and promoting her new female-driven police drama, The Detail. In the series, she plays Detective Jack Cooper, a rough-around- the-edges homicide detective with workaholic habits and a tendency to colour outside the lines.

“She’s a rule-breaker and I love that about her. I love how unapologetic she is about it, she gets in trouble and she’s like, ‘sorry not sorry,’ like ‘whatever, did I get the bad guy, did I figure it out? Yes I did, so what’s the problem?’ and I love that attitude,” she says.

As an actor who’s been in the limelight from a young age, Grimes-Beech says her character reminds her to be herself unapologetically, and she can relate to many of Jack’s more rebellious traits.

“As someone who has been in the public eye for the majority of my life, it’s hard sometimes because it can feel very stifling. You need to fit a certain mould and tip-toe around certain things and you can’t be unabashedly yourself or swear like the sailor that I do,” she says. “You get older and you finally embrace that you don’t have to apologize for all those things because they’re the things that make you your wonderful self and if people don’t like it then c’est la vie. So I definitely identify with a lot of Jack’s qualities and she inspires me to embrace those qualities more.”

With two other powerful female characters played by Angela Griffin and Wendy Crewson, The Detail is hitting the airwaves at just the right time, and Grimes-Beech says she’s definitely an advocate of the ‘women supporting women’ movement.

“I believe in being very encouraging to one another,” she says. “It’s about cumulatively taking over the world, not just every woman for herself, and I think that’s the way the characters on this show function and behind the camera, that’s the way our cast and crew function, so I definitely am proud to be a part of it.”

Scenes in the show were filmed in various locations around the GTA, and Grimes-Beech says coming back to film in Toronto was a refreshing experience for her—besides getting a chance to hit some of her favourite destinations like Café Crepe, Aritzia and Zara, she says she felt so fortunate to return to the city where she got her start.

“This is my city, this is the city that really made me and has supported me so much in my success out in L.A.,” she says. “And now I get to come home and still feel like this warm welcome. It’s a total honour getting to be back here.”

The Detail premieres on CTV March 25 at 9 pm.

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