On “90210,” Gillian Zinser plays whip-smart, whimsical Ivy. But what happens on TV doesn’t stay on TV for this actress, who’s just as quick and quirky as her onscreen counterpart. We chatted with Gillian about her fearless fashion sense, building schools in Haiti, the status of “Manson Girls” and more.
Wonderwall: What did you do on your summer vacation?
Gillian Zinser: We had a month off, and within that month, I worked on another project and spent the rest of my time down in Haiti working with Artists for Peace and Justice. Our mission at large is to build schools to serve the poorest areas in Haiti.
WW: How was that?
GZ: I loved spending time in Haiti. It is one of the most inspirational communities, and every time I get the chance to, I go down there. We just erected the only-ever public secondary school to exist in Haiti so that was incredibly exciting, so I went down to check that out and check on some kids that I have grown attached to down there.
WW: You’re always wearing something cool and unique on the red carpet. How do you prep? Do you work with a stylist?
GZ: No, I don’t really believe in working with a stylist. I give myself a rule of no getting ready for longer than 20 minutes. I think that that does not need to be over-thought. I put on what makes me happy, and I am inspired by my moods and what is going on in my head, and God knows there are some crazy stuff in there. I think people respond to the way I dress because it’s representative of my personality, which is eccentric and consistent to keeping myself comfortable within my own skin and not conforming to what others expect or want to see.
WW: Have you had any favorite outfits you’re worn?
GZ: My favorite item in my wardrobe might be my sequin muumuu. I bought that at a thrift store called One Revelation on First Avenue in the East Village in New York. That piece makes me happy.
WW: You and Manish Dayal, who plays your husband Raj on “90210,” work with an organization called Be the Match. Tell us about it.
GZ: BeTheMatch.org is the largest registry for bone marrow donations in the country. A huge issue right now is the fact that out of the 7 million people that are registered, 75 percent of them are Caucasian. That leaves way too many people unrepresented as minorities looking for matches. So Manish and I have done a PSA, and we are working to reach out to minority communities to get them educated and aware of the problem that people who are of minorities have 1 in a 20,000 chance of finding a bone marrow match, and try to get them registered, which costs nothing and is an important part of being a part of the community.
WW: How did you get involved with the organization?
GZ: Our storyline is directly related [to it]. Raj has leukemia on the show and is going through chemotherapy right now. If Raj’s [chemo] was not to work, his character would very possibly have to get a bone marrow transplant, which is why we researched and found BeTheMatch.org and became involved with them. He is Indian, so the Indian representation within the registry is so underrepresented, so if his character were to need a bone marrow transplant, the chance of him finding a match would be really unlikely, in which case he would have a hard chance of living.
WW: Have you yourself registered?
GZ: Yes, of course!
WW: This season, there were big cast shakeups with Trevor Donovan, Ryan Eggold and Lori Loughlin leaving “90210.” Has the dynamic on set changed?
GZ: It’s a shame to see friends go, to not have them with us on set as castmates, but we are also completely supportive of one another as artists, to be able to see them, their lives and careers open up to better opportunities. So I am really happy for all of them to get to move on and direct themselves in another direction.
WW: On the movie front, you’re tapped to play Summer Sunshine in “Manson Girls.” What’s the status of the flick?
GZ: It’s an interesting storyline and a fun piece. We haven’t started — that’s been pushed.
WW: But you do have some movies coming up, right?
GZ: I did an Oliver Stone flick, “Savages,” and I did do a movie with Matt Lanter called “Liars All.”
WW: Are you and Matt completely sick of each other now after doing last season of “90210,” then the movie and now coming back for another season?
GZ: He actually just sent me a text saying, “I miss working with you! I never get to see you anymore.” It didn’t cross my mind. I never see him on set because our storylines are so uninvolved at this point. I really do miss working with Matt. He is one of my favorites. He is a gem to be around, and probably the funniest cast member on set. I do miss Matt a lot and no longer get to see him anymore because Ivy is kind of off in her old world.
Catch Gillian on “90210,” Tuesdays at 8/7c on The CW!