interviewed Michael Steger

At 29, Michael Steger is a little old to be in high school, but the actor does a convincing job as West Beverly High’s newspaper editor Navid Shirazi on 90210. Navid has had his fair share of ups and downs lately—recovering from a break-up with Adrianna, watching her go back to drugs, and getting pushed down the stairs by nefarious dealer Jasper. I spoke to Steger about playing Navid and where the character is headed. Good news: His love life is looking up. I actually graduated from the real Beverly Hills High and many of my friends were Persian, so I was excited to see the addition of a Persian character to the 90210 reboot. But you yourself aren’t Persian. What kind of research did you do and how do you reflect that culture?
Michael Steger: Well, it’s much like the way I am, first-generation American. My mother’s side of the family’s from Ecuador, and there’s a disconnect from the family overseas. Navid is so much in tune with the American lifestyle, but yet he’s in touch somewhat with the cultural background. I have a lot of friends who are Persian, so I’m very aware of their status in Beverly Hills and everything. My research is the friends that I have and constantly talking with them and learning their little catch phrases. I’ve got like a sheet of Farsi that I always play around with, but they’ve never really delved that far into the culture on the show.

I also worked on the Beverly High paper, so I’m pretty attached to your character. Will there be any newspaper drama coming up this season?
We do have a new teacher that interned at 60 Minutes—he’s like a world-class journalist, but he ends up teaching at West Beverly High. He brings some trouble to West Beverly. So there are some inner politics within the journalism department.

I hear Navid’s getting a new love interest. What can you tell us about her? How is she different from Adrianna and what will she bring to the show?
Yeah, Lila, played by Amber Wallace, brings a lot of similar qualities that Navid has, and I think that’s the main attraction. She’s ambitious, very involved in the Blaze. It’s like Navid’s little escape from his past relationship. I think he’s relieved that he’s able to find someone just like him.

And then, of course, Adrianna has a high-profile relationship coming up. We keep seeing the same-sex kiss teased. How is Navid going to react to his ex-girlfriend dating a girl?
He’s heard Adrianna’s been interested in a girl, and I think he’s OK with it in the beginning. But then I think he’s almost blaming himself that he turned Adrianna gay. It’s hitting his self-esteem pretty hard. He’s having a rough time with it, and you get to see how Navid really feels about Adrianna.

What about the drug storyline? Jasper still hasn’t gotten his comeuppance for pushing Navid down the stairs. Can we look forward to any sort of retribution soon?
The thing is, there’s retribution, but Jasper’s very resilient. It’s really hard to faze Jasper because he is a very smart, manipulative guy. But Navid is definitely after Jasper and he’s trying to devise a plan to get him kicked out of school. It’s not that easy. Wherever he goes, if he goes to the principal, or Dixon, or Liam, no one believes him and no one wants to help. But there’s a little hope with Dixon, because he does help Navid to try to get Jasper kicked out.

Now that the new 90210 has had time to find its own voice, how do you think it compares to the original series?
I think it compares to the old show in that it really showcases California. I mean, you get to see the backdrop of what California really is like, and I think that’s what people crave. They want to see the beach, they want to see Rodeo Drive, they want to see California—and I think that’s a huge character. And all the lives within that world. I think that’s the biggest similarity.

But I think the main difference is that the new 90210 is a whole new show, it’s all new characters, and it has its own integrity and a whole new set of problems. We’re dealing with a much more mature group of kids. Back then, 10 years ago, kids were different. They didn’t have the same issues we have today. That’s why I think it was so important to bring back the show.


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