Get To Know The Neighbors: '90210's' Tristan Wilds

Tristanwilds_90210_240 As Michael Lee on The Wire, Tristan Wilds dealt with some heavy material: sexual abuse, a drug-addicted mother and having to take responsibility for his little brother. Now playing Dixon Wilson, the adopted son of high school principal Harry Wilson and his wife Debbie on The CW's 90210 spin off, Wilds new fictional world couldn't be more different. I mean, he is basically the 21st century's Brandon Walsh. I recently caught up with Tristan to see what he thinks of all this...

You're coming off a critically acclaimed series in which you portrayed a pretty serious character. How do you feel about transitioning to a nighttime soap opera? Do you think the writers will give you material worthy of your talents?
You know, we have some of the best writers on the show. Working with [show runners] Gabe [Sachs] and Jeff [Judah], I am positive that they're going to take advantage of any kind of acting abilities that I have. They're writing some really good material that's actually very relevant to everything going on in the world right now -- you know, stuff that teenagers are going through everyday -- so you'll definitely get a sense of that.

You're probably too young to have been familiar with the original 90210, yeah? Did you have any knowledge of the show before you were cast?
I actually watched a little bit of it, I knew the characters and everything. It was one of those things where, you know, you're laying on the couch watching cartoons, big sister comes in, sits on your back, takes the remote control from you and changes the channel. So I'd seen two or three episodes --
I knew the storylines, I knew the love interests and it was nuts, it was a frenzy, the show -- But I never really got into it until after I got the role.

So your older sister is a fan?
My older sister and my cousin, they would both watch it together, so I actually had two people sitting on my back.

What did they think when they found out you were cast in the spin off?
It was funny because when I got cast for the role, I didn't tell anybody. I came home, and my cousin was there, and I said, Dana, what would you think if I told you they were coming out with a brand new 90210? She was like, Oh my gosh! Oh my gosh! It was like my favorite show, I was such a big Brenda fan. And I said, What would you say if I was on it? And she [screamed], Oh my gosh! Stop playing. Oh my gosh, Tristan, stop playing! And my sister ran out [screaming], Oh my gosh! They were going crazy for about an hour.

That is awesome. So, what do you make of your character, Dixon?
I think Dixon is a very real character. You see characters like him in real life everyday, because it's not that unordinary to have a child of a different race in your house nowadays. You could have a little brother who's Asian and a little sister who's like Afghanistani or something. So to be adopted and be a diverse part of this family, it's not that different. What I'd like to see come out of him is regular teenager stuff. You'll get to see his playful side. You'll get to see that he may go through some problems and that he likes girls and wants to pursue girls and all that. He has the mindset of a real teenager who has just moved to Beverly Hills and is seeing some new things.

You're actually living through a similar experience right now, no? You just moved to L.A.?
Exactly, because I'm from New York -- Staten Island -- and you would never expect a Staten Island boy like me to move from S.I. to Beverly Hills. I'm going through it just like Dixon's going through it, which is why I'm glad I'm not from here, because [if I was from here] I wouldn't be able to portray this experience in the same way.

And how are you finding L.A. so far?
You know, so far, it's cool. The beaches are to die for. But it's pretty spread out. You just gotta have a GPS or something.