It’s not uncommon for young adults to play high schoolers on TV, but Gabrielle Carteris wasn’t taking any chances when she auditioned for Beverly Hills, 90210.
In an exclusive interview with the original cast members for PEOPLE’s new special edition in honor of the new reboot, BH90210, Gabrielle Carteris recalled lying about her age to land the role of 16-year-old Andrea Zuckerman, telling producers she was 21 when she was really 29.
- PEOPLE’s Beverly Hills, 90210 Special Edition is available now at Amazon and wherever magazines are sold.
“When I got the role, a lawyer told me I could sign a contract and state a different age, as long as it was over the age of 21,” said Carteris, now 58. “When [my real age] did come out, the show was just starting to take off and my character was established enough that they did not fire me. But a producer did say to me, ‘You’re lucky we didn’t know your age when we hired you.’”
Carteris also shared that events from the actors’ real lives sometimes ended up as storylines for their characters. For example, she had surgery for bunions and had to use a wheelchair during her recovery, which translated into a serious car accident for Andrea, and when she was expecting her first child, her teenage character got pregnant on 90210.
“Before I got pregnant with my first child, I went to Aaron [Spelling] and said, ‘My husband, Charlie, and I would like to start a family, and I’d like for you to write it in that Andrea gets pregnant because I don’t want to hide my pregnancy. I want my baby to know I was proud and share it with the world.’” Cartelois recalled. “Aaron was so shocked, but he said, ‘Yes, we’ll do it.’ So Andrea was full-blown pregnant.”
She added that there was some backlash from the public because of it.
“Somebody wrote an article about, ‘How dare Andrea get pregnant? It’s high school, she’s supposed to be a smart girl,'” Carteris said. “I responded back in an editorial, ‘You know, smart people make mistakes. Smart people make decisions about the choices they make in their lives, and this is real life.'”
BH90210 airs Wednesday at 9 p.m. ET on Fox.