TORONTO - After years spent portraying characters on popular teen dramas, Shenae Grimes-Beech is making the move away from acting to devote more time to showcasing her own personality — both in front of and behind the camera.
The former star of "Degrassi: The Next Generation" and the "90210" reboot said she's crossed off an item on her teen girl to-do list as the new face of Annabelle Cosmetics. The Toronto-born, Los Angeles-based star is appearing in both print and TV ads as a brand ambassador for the Montreal-based cosmetics company.
"I've always made it a priority to come back to Canada," Grimes-Beech said in a recent interview in her hometown ahead of an Annabelle event. "I have to see my Canadian fan base and supporters because they're really who made me, and to be associated with such an iconic Canadian brand is huge."
Grimes-Beech has also teamed up with her musician husband, Josh Beech, on their fashion, music and lifestyles blog Two Halves, which focuses on the his-and-her perspective of current trends that fall within the "edgy, rock 'n' roll vibe." The couple share posts and videos on everything from makeovers to style must-haves and chats with pals like Canadian supermodel Coco Rocha, while also offering glimpses into their personalities and lives.
"As I'm making this transition into hosting and presenting and being myself on camera, a lot of people don't identify me with myself. ... A lot of people don't even know my name but are big fans of me," said Grimes-Beech.
"I've played somebody else in someone else's clothes saying other people's words for 11 years, so it's really important for me to get my own identity out there."
She is also drawing on her experience in the style world — which included internships with Teen Vogue and "Fashion Television" — with her own foray into fashion. Grimes-Beech and her husband are preparing to relaunch his streetwear company Cut & Run London under the Two Halves banner as a clothing and accessories label.
"I've had a hands-on education in film and television by default from acting for so long that's given me confidence behind the camera in that space. So, I felt like I needed to get a hands-on education in fashion if I was going to speak to it in any capacity."
Indeed, Grimes-Beech's experience at the long-running "Fashion Television" — which was cancelled in 2012 — and the influence of both the show's host, Jeanne Beker, and series creator Jay Levine has had a lasting impact.
"What they did was incredible and completely unique to itself," she said. "I don't think there's any other television show ... that's lasted that long and managed to stay that current and on top of it, but also maintain a certain level of integrity.
"I think a lot of things in fashion nowadays, models will tell you celebrities are stealing all their jobs. It's so celebrity-driven nowadays. So I think for them to stay really true to educating people about fashion is what I always found so fascinating."
The 24-year-old has also been developing her chops behind the camera, directing music videos for her husband as well as her friend and former "Degrassi" castmate Cassie Steele.
While she won't rule out a return to acting if the right opportunity surfaces, the Gemini Award winner said "it's definitely not a top 10" among her list of priorities at the moment.
"I am a bit of a method actor, so it really encompasses my whole world when I'm doing it. And I'm so passionate about taking this time while I am still young to pursue things that I've wanted to pursue for years, but haven't had time or a chance to (do)."
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