Shenae Grimes-Beech is an actor turned digital content creator and entrepreneur. After spending 15 years on camera as an actor on hit TV series like Degrassi and 90210, Shenae decided to prioritize a lifestyle that better suited her growing family. After giving birth to her fi rst child in 2018, Shenae started working from home building out her personal brand as a content creator whilst juggling the full time job of parenthood. While Shenae has made an impact in her corner of the internet over the past few years, her entrepreneurial story is only just beginning!
The secret to the longevity I’ve had in my career comes down to one thing: I’m unafraid to pivot.
Hello Shenae, thanks for sharing your time with us. You are known for your roles on Degrassi and Beverly Hills 90210. How have these television roles been a stepping stone for your career today?
I am so grateful to my decade spent on Degrassi and 90210. Those years were so formative for me as an individual, both socially and professionally. I achieved some of my wildest dreams acting on those two series and began to harness the work ethic that continues to drive me forward in my career today. While I greatly attribute my success in landing my roles on those shows to luck, once I got the job, I learned how to show up.
There are no sick days or off days as an actor. No matter what’s going on in your life on any given day, you are required to show up and expected to perform at 100% because there are no do overs. The performance you give in a scene is what is captured on camera forever. It also taught me how to navigate interpersonal work dynamics behind the scenes. I was 13 when I started on Degrassi but I was always expected to behave professionally like any adult on set. Of course, my time on these shows also provided me with an audience. All these years later and there is still a small but loyal community of fans who have and continue to support me and my endeavors as I’ve shifted the trajectory of my career. I owe everything I have to that community. Ultimately, I view my audience, fans and followers as my employers and I have the utmost appreciation for them because of it.
Many early success actors/actresses find it difficult to last in this industry? Obviously, this is not your case! You have played several roles during the last decade! What have been the secrets of your longevity until now?
It is difficult to last in the entertainment industry because when you’re hot, you’re hot and when you’re not, you’re not. I’ve experienced both sides and battled with the feelings that reality brought. Much of my greatest professional success came very early in my life and I spent years feeling a need to top myself or meet previously set bars and expectations. In the past couple of years, I’ve finally started to come to terms with redefining success for myself. At the height of my acting career on 90210, I was a very unhappy person. I’ve since found great happiness in my life and it has nothing to do with impressive professional achievements. Now, I hope to carry that newfound sense of purpose into every professional endeavor and goal I strive towards. I think the secret to longevity as an actor is perseverance. You have to embrace a devastating amount of rejection while staying passionate about your craft and confident in your ability to do so. It is not for the faint of heart. The secret to the longevity I’ve had in my career comes down to one thing: I’m unafraid to pivot. Of course, this brings its own mental challenges along the way. You know the public expects things of you that you may not be meeting and that is hard to grapple with at times. If you continue to drive forward in reinventing yourself, are okay to start back at the bottom and work your way up again and are able to bring a different kind of value to those people, hopefully they’ll stay along for the ride!
I always struggled with social media because (…) it just wasn’t in my nature to be that calculated and polished all the time. It took me a while to fi nd my digital corner on the internet…”
Being an actor is also being an entrepreneur. Knowing how to anticipate, position yourself and diversify. You chose to develop your own Youtube channel and your Instagram account. What a smart move! How did you build your personal branding? What was your strategy?
When I first got Instagram, it was just because everyone I knew had it already and I just used it socially. When I realized I was no longer fulfilled by acting, I decided to go back to my teenage passion of blogging as a pastime. After 90210, I found myself putting so much effort into auditioning and receiving little reward and it was incredibly frustrating. Writing on my blog gave me a sense of control over my own fate. With acting, you can work hard, put in a ton of effort and perform to the best of your ability but that certainly does not mean you will book the job. There are a million other factors that are completely out of your control that ultimately determine whether or not you’ll get that lucky strike.
With my blog, I felt like I had more control over getting the outcome I desired purely by what I put into it. Instagram became a powerful extension of that and later, YouTube. YouTube is now the most fun platform for me as a creator because I get to showcase myself as myself after years spent on camera portraying fictional characters. I also get to be creative with filming and editing and play to my strengths of storytelling.. Read the full interview