"Degrassi" Star Shenae Grimes on Bringing Her Photographs of Homeless Youth to Miami Beach

"Degrassi" Star Shenae Grimes on Bringing Her Photographs of Homeless Youth to Miami Beach
Shenae Grimes
(Photo by David Livingston/Getty Images)

Celebrity spotting is to Art Basel Miami Beach what bird watching is to a trip to the Amazon. For most, it’s not the main reason to go, but it’s an excellent bonus once you’re there. This year, the presence of one rising Hollywood starlet is guaranteed, and she’ll be doing more than partying and shopping at the fair: her art is for sale, too.

Shenae Grimes, the star of the CW’s “90210” — but better known to some as Darcy Edwards on the Canadian teen drama “Degrassi” — will showcase her photographs as part of an exhibition, “Travelers,” held at the Sanctuary Hotel in Miami Beach on December 3 and co-sponsored by Bing. She took the photos last winter while filming the forthcoming independent film “Sugar," about homeless youth living in Venice Beach. "I started spending a lot of time on the boardwalk, and I befriended a group of traveler kids that were passing through the area at the time," she said. "After a couple of months of hanging out with them, I realized that no one really saw the beauty in them that I saw." So Grimes went from playing a homeless teen onscreen to photographing them in real life.

From the hundreds of photos she took over the course of a few months, 12 will be on display in Miami, priced between $200 and $400. They are accompanied by five works donated by street artists, whose identities will remain secret until the event. “You’d know their work,” she promised, explaining that some are planning other interventions during ABMB and want to stay under the radar as long as possible. “Street art and skateboarding is such a major part of the culture these kids are a part of,” she explained. All proceeds will go to a Los Angeles shelter, My Friends Place, where Grimes filmed scenes from “Sugar.” Director Marc Singer will screen his documentary “Dark Days,” which chronicles the homeless population living in the underground tunnels of New York City, at the event, and ubiquitous musician Theophilus London will perform a D.J. set.

Now that she's about to show her photographs in Miami, can we expect Grimes to adopt the actor-artist model, James Franco-style? (Grimes did, after all, once date Franco’s brother Dave.) Apparently not. “Not James Franco style, that's for sure, I don't like his style,” she said. (Perhaps Grimes prefers a breezy vibe like that of Mila Kunis, who recently told GQ that she doesn’t consider herself an artist.)

Grimes said she doesn't consider herself a photographer either — she’s only taken a few classes in the medium. “The greatest thing I've learned out of this whole event is not that I'm a photographer that deserves to be displayed and sold,"  but said, adding, "it's given me a lot more respect for artists in general." We'll see what she thinks after seeing them misbehave in Miami.