SHOWS FOR YOUNGSTERS AND THEIR PARENTS TOO : How to tell ‘Sweet Valley High’s’ twins apart from the sisters who play them


They walk alike, they talk alike and yes, they sure look alike. But on closer observation, Brittany and Cynthia Daniels, 18, who play the Wakefield twins on the syndicated “Sweet Valley High,” are distinguishable from each other.

The girls will explain. “Cynthia’s face is rounder ...” Brittany begins. Cynthia, whose eyes are larger, jumps in: “Brittany’s is sharper.”

They say they’re each 5-foot-7, but add that on some days one or the other may seem shorter or taller.

The differences, they assure, are minor. Their characters, saucy Jessica and studious Elizabeth, are way too different for identical twins.

“They’re just too opposite,” Brittany declares during lunch at a downtown Los Angeles restaurant.


“You can’t live in a room with someone for your entire life, look just like them and not be very similar,” concludes Cynthia.

When their lunches arrive, Cynthia wrinkles her nose. Perched atop her Caesar salad are two delicately crossed anchovies.

“Take it off with your fork and then ask for another fork,” instructs Brittany. The girls became vegetarians at 13. They have since converted their publicist for “Sweet Valley” producers Saban Entertainment, makers of “Mighty Morphin Power Rangers.”

The publicist, also lunching, adds that the Daniels’ faces--instead of a composite drawing or random blond twin models--soon will adorn the covers of the “Sweet Valley” series of paperback books. There are about 200 books in the “Sweet Valley Saga,” “Sweet Valley Kids,” “Sweet Valley Twins,” “Sweet Valley High,” and “Sweet Valley University” library. The books originally were written by Francine Pascal, whose team of writers now puts together tales from her story lines.

All stories focus on the adventures of the popular Wakefield twins who attend school in Sweet Valley, a mythical land of sun and fun somewhere on the California coast (don’t ask why it’s called a valley). Valencia doubles as Sweet Valley.

From her New York offices, Pascal says the Daniels “are as if they walked off the covers of the books! Oh my God, they’re absolutely perfect. None of the thousands of twins we saw compared to these two.”


In real life, the recent high school grads are actually more like each other’s characters. “I was the one more into school,” says Brittany, who plays nasty-edged and wild Jessica.

Cynthia, who plays more mild Elizabeth, adds, “And I was the one who had a wild phase, but wasn’t”--Brittany finishes her sentence--”ever as nasty as Jessica gets.”

Although the girls have done six roles as on-screen twins (check them out in the upcoming feature “Basketball Diaries,” starring Leonard DiCaprio), they often go up for roles against each other. “We read very different,” assures Brittany in actor-speak.

“At least,” Cynthia says, “that’s what we’ve been told.”

Different reads landed Brittany a role in 1992 on the syndicated teen sudser “Swan’s Crossing.”

“I knew I gave a bad audition,” Cynthia says, “but no one was happier than me when she got it.” The seven-month separation--Brittany left their Jacksonville, Fla., home for the bright lights of Manhattan--was the first time the girls had ever been separated.

“That,” says Cynthia decisively, “was the biggest change! When she came back we were totally different. I was still into the cheerleader-hanging out scene ...”

“And I was more mature, like a 30-year-old in a 16-year-old’s body, and we dressed completely differently,” points out Brittany.


Now, they agree, things have “evened out.” They also agree on a future: feature films.

Discovered on a beach at 8, the twins were described by their mother to an agent as too young for modeling. But at 11 they went on their first job. And yes, as they are frequently asked, they were in two Doublemint commercials, but just don’t call them the Doublemint twins. “We hated being called the Daniels twins, even,” says Cynthia. “It’s like we’re not individual people.”

“Sweet Valley High” airs Saturday at 8:30 a.m. on KUSI and 11:30 a.m. on KTTV . For ages 7 and up.