Whatever it takes! Degrassi: The Next Generation launched the careers of Drake (Real name: Aubrey Graham), Nina Dobrev, Shenae Grimes and more, but some fans will always see the actors and actresses as their iconic characters.
Degrassi: The Next Generation, the fourth instatement of the Degrassi franchise, premiered in 2001. The series originally centered on Degrassi Junior High character Spike’s (Amanda Stepto) daughter Emma Nelson (Miriam McDonald).
After a decade, Degrassi: The Next Generation was known simply as Degrassi for seasons 10 through 14. After the teen drama wrapped in 2015, Netflix picked up the show for a new installment, Degrassi: Next Class. The Netflix version of the show ran for four seasons, but the streaming service has yet to pick up Degrassi: Next Class for a fifth season.
While several original cast members, including McDonald, Shane Kippel, Sarah Barrable-Tishauer, Lauren Collins, Jake Epstein and Adamo Ruggiero, returned for a season 2 episode of Degrassi: Next Class in 2016, perhaps the bigger reunion took place on the set of Drake’s 2018 music video, “I’m Upset.” The video featured more than 20 cameos from the show.
“There was no acting going on in that video,” Epstein, who played Craig Manning, told Variety about the shoot in 2018. “It was truly a reunion of great friends who hadn’t seen each other in years. Drake’s team and [director] Karena [Evans] did a fantastic job of orchestrating the whole thing.”
McDonald noted to the outlet that the shoot was emotional.
“We laughed; we cried; we had the best time,” the actress said. “I am so proud of how far each of us came from when we first walked those hallways 17 years ago.”
Collins, who played Paige Michaelchuk, added that it was the “best night.”
“It was the reunion we’ve always wanted, and we were thrilled to do it with our old friend,” she told Variety. “Thank you Aubrey, and thank you to the unbelievably dedicated fans of our show.”
Degrassi made headlines in February 2021 after Cassie Steele recreated one of Manny Santos’ iconic looks — the infamous low-rise jeans with the bright blue thong — as part of the “Buss It” challenge on TikTok.
After Steele shared the video to Instagram, Drake commented, “Fit is museum worthy tbh Santos.”
Scroll through for an update on the cast:
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Miriam McDonald (Emma Nelson)
After nine seasons as Emma Nelson — and a cameo on Degrassi: Next Class — McDonald continues to act in Canadian productions. She has also worked as a yoga instructor and real estate agent.
Credit: Courtesy Miriam McDonald/Instagram; YouTube
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Cassie Steele (Manny Santos)
Steele starred on the short-lived CW drama The L.A. Complex after she completed nine seasons on Degrassi as Manny Santos. She also released an EP in 2014. Steele continues to act, mostly in made-for-TV movies, and has an voiceover role in the upcoming Disney film Raya and the Last Dragon. She married Trent Garrett, who appeared on Disney Channel’s Andi Mack, in 2018. In 2020, fans noticed Steele deleted all of her photos with Garrett, confirming speculation that they had split. The actress subsequently started seeing boyfriend Favian Martinez, a sales executive who lives in Colorado.
Credit: YouTube; Courtesy Cassie Steele/Instagram
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Sarah Barrable-Tishauer (Liberty Van Zandt)
Barrable-Tishauer, who appeared on eight seasons of Degrassi, made a brief return to acting in a 2016 episode of Degrassi: Next Class. After graduating as valedictorian from Concordia University in 2012, Barrable-Tishauer started DJing and working as an account manager.
"You can probably imagine having a nine-to-five job and also DJing until 3 a.m. is kind of a difficult thing to balance, so I've just tried to keep my gigs on weekends and just a couple times a month because I just don't have a lot of time. So, it's kind of like I live this dual life,” she told Refinery29 in August 2017. “Marketing by day, bass by night, but I'm really loving it. I think it's a lot of pressure if you're trying to DJ full time, so I'm really lucky that I'm trying to be more selective with what I wanna do.”
Credit: YouTube; Sarah Barrable-Tishauer/Instagram
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Aubrey Drake Graham (Jimmy Brooks)
While he was known to many as Jimmy Brooks in the 2000s, Drake became a popular figure in music after he dropped his 2009 single “Best I Ever Had.” He has since released five chart-topping studio albums and won four out of his 42 Grammy nominations.
The rapper, who last appeared on Degrassi in season 8, went back to his roots in 2018 when he enlisted several of his former costars to return to the set of the fictional school to film a music video for his song “I’m Upset.”
Drake shares son Adonis with ex Sophia Brussaux.
Credit: Shutterstock; YouTube
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Nina Dobrev (Mia Jones)
Dobrev left Degrassi at the beginning of season 9 after three seasons to star as Elena Gilbert on The CW’s Vampire Diaries. While she left the popular series in 2015, Dobrev returned for the series finale in 2017. She has since focused on film roles and starred in the short-lived CBS sitcom Fam. Dobrev started dating snowboarder Shaun White in 2020.
Credit: YouTube; Shutterstock
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Shenae Grimes (Darcy Edwards)
While Grimes had a recurring role on seasons 4 and 5 of Degrassi, Darcy became a main character during seasons 6 and 7. When Grimes landed the lead in the CW’s Beverly Hills, 90210, reboot in 2008, however, she announced her exit. Grimes returned to wrap up Darcy’s storyline during the season 8 premiere. While it’s unclear if the fictional character is still doing missionary work in Africa, Grimes starred as Annie Wilson on 90210 for five seasons. In 2020, she reunited the cast via Zoom for her popular YouTube channel.
Grimes and husband Josh Beech welcomed daughter Bowie in 2018. She missed Drake’s music video shoot due to her pregnancy. Grimes announced in February 2021 that she is pregnant with baby No. 2.
Credit: YouTube; Shutterstock
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Shane Kippel (Spinner Mason)
After nine seasons as Spinner on Degrassi, Kippel reprised his role for a season 14 episode of the series and again for two episodes of Degrassi: Next Class in 2016. While he still acts and produces projects occasionally, Kippel also plays the drums. And while Kippel and Drake might not been as close as Spinner and Jimmy, he revealed that he still talks to the “God’s Plan” rapper via social media.
“Throughout the years, we follow each other on social media and he'll post something about me, I'll post something about him, and we'll private message each other for a little bit,” Kippel revealed during a radio interview in 2018. “The crazy thing about the relationships and the bonds that we all shared growing up there, we started our careers there, and it was like the heat of our teenage years, so no matter how much time passes, a couple weeks or over a decade, it's still like no time at all. As soon as we see each other it just brings it all back and there is nothing but good vibes. The bond still transcends time.”
Kippel, who has a sketch comedy group, is dating ballet teacher Esra Leia.
Credit: Courtesy Shane Kippel/Instagram; YouTube
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Lauren Collins (Paige Michaelchuk)
Collins has continued to act after her seven seasons on Degrassi. In addition to appearing in multiple TV films and her recurring roles on Being Erica, Kroll Show and FX’s The Strain, she reprised her role as Paige on Degrassi: Next Class in 2016. Collins, who often shares behind-the-scenes pics from the set of Degrassi, even pays tribute to her iconic character in her Instagram bio, which reads, “Not a mean girl but I played one on TV.”
Collins and husband Jonathan Malen, a Canadian actor, welcomed son Charlie in March 2020.
Credit: Courtesy Lauren Collins/Instagram; YouTube
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Melissa McIntyre (Ashley Kerwin)
While McIntyre originally left Degrassi after the first four seasons, she returned for seasons 6 and 7. McIntyre doesn’t have any IMBb credits post-Degrassi, but she made headlines in May 2018 when she replied to a fan who asked, “Do you still tell people you kissed Drake?” via Twitter.
“Every. Day. Of. My. Life,” she quipped back.
Credit: Courtesy Melissa McIntyre/Instagram; YouTube
10 of 17
Christina Schmidt (Terri McGreggor)
Schmidt appeared for three seasons on Degrassi before she left to pursue modeling full-time. As a result, her character Terri left the school after her abusive boyfriend, Rick, put her in a coma. Schmidt still models and lives in Canada with her boyfriend Landon.
“Growing up, I never thought I was an inspiration to anybody in any way,” she told Fashion magazine in April 2020. “I never realized that some of these young girls really needed someone to look up to. There wasn’t Instagram or Facebook, and the majority of television stars were definitely not as diverse as those you see today, so having someone like them on a TV show was huge. This all just started making sense to me years later, though, when they would express how I made such an impact on their lives.”
Credit: YouTube; Courtesy Christina Schmidt/Instagram
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Ryan Cooley (JT Yorke)
After Cooley’s character JT was killed off during season 6, he didn’t do much acting with the exception of voiceover work for the animated Canadian series Oh No! It’s an Alien Invasion. While Drake invited Cooley to appear in the “I’m Upset” music video, the musician later revealed that his former costar thought the invite was “a scam.”
Cooley announced his engagement to girlfriend Stef in 2019.
Credit: Courtesy Ryan Cooley/Instagram; YouTube
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Daniel Clark (Sean Cameron)
Clark was a series regular on Degrassi for the first four seasons. While he left during the middle of season 4, Sean returned for season 6. Clark made his final appearance to wrap up Sean’s relationship with Emma during season 7.
In 2012, Clark graduated from New York University with a degree in political science and a business minor. He subsequently started working as a news producer for ABC. Clark was noticeably missing from Drake’s “I’m Upset” video in 2018 — and he told Page Six that he was surprised to be excluded after the video dropped.
“It sucks because it would have been great to see everybody,” Clark said. “The best part is the fans are getting what they want and that’s most important and everyone looks so happy, so that’s kind of the silver lining there. It looked like everyone was having a great time, but for me, it was kind of sad too, because we were all really like family.”
He still has love for the show, however. In April 2020, Clark, who has a girlfriend named Mandee, shared a throwback of Sean and Emma (McDonald) via Instagram. “Remember when we didn’t know what ‘social distancing’ and ‘self isolation’ meant? Miss those summer days…” he wrote before referencing Emma taking up knitting during season 6. “Still waiting on that sock btw #tbt #degrassi.”
Credit: Courtesy Daniel Clark/Instagram; YouTube
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Jake Epstein (Craig Manning)
Epstein appeared in nearly 90 episodes of Degrassi from 2002 to 2008. He has since taken his talents to the stage, appearing in stage productions of Spring Awakening, Billy Elliot the Musical and American Idiot. Epstein made his Broadway debut in Spider-Man: Turn Off the Dark in 2012, but left the show to originate the role of Gerry Goffin in Beautiful: The Carole King Musical in 2014.
Epstein married Vanessa Smythe in 2018.
Credit: YouTube; Courtesy Jake Epstein/Instagram
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Jake Goldsbie (Toby Isaacs)
Goldsbie was a full-time cast member for the first seven seasons of Degrassi. After wrapping up his role during a season 8 episode, he enrolled in the Concordia University in Montreal, where he studied theater. In addition to minor acting roles, Goldsbie works as a writer, producer and podcast host. He announced his engagement in October 2019 and got married in November 2020.
Credit: Courtesy Jake Goldsbie/Instagram; YouTube
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Stacey Farber (Ellie Nash)
Farber joined the cast of Degrassi during season 2 and was billed as a full-time cast member until the end of season 7. She went on to star in the Canadian sitcom 18 to Life, which also aired on The CW from 2010 to 2011, and the Canadian medical drama Saving Hope for three seasons. Farber has also had guest roles on Chicago Justice, Grace and Frankie, UnReal and Schitt’s Creek. Farber is set to appear in season 3 of Netflix’s Virgin River and recur on The CW’s Superman & Lois.
Credit: Courtesy Stacey Farber/Instagram; YouTube
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Adamo Ruggiero (Marco Del Rossi)
After more than 100 episodes of the drama, Ruggiero went behind the camera to interview fellow Degrassi stars on his web series, Straight Talk with Adamo Ruggiero. In addition to other minor acting roles, he appeared on Degrassi: Next Class in 2016.
Ruggiero, whose character Marco was gay, is also an LGBTQ activist.
Credit: Courtesy Adamo Ruggiero/Instagraml YouTube
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Andrea Lewis (Hazel Aden)
After making several guest appearances on season 1, Lewis was upgraded to a full-time cast member for season 2. She remained on the show until the end of season 5. Lewis, who lives in Los Angeles, continues to act and sing. She reunited with Schmidt for a YouTube video on Lewis' channel in May 2020.
Credit: YouTube; Courtesy Andrea Lewis/Instagram