When it comes to teen dramas, few were quite as addictive as “Degrassi,” the Canadian teen series that began back in 1979. Since its debut, the show has spawned five separate series, including “Degrassi: The Next Generation” and “Degrassi: Next Class,” as well as a few films and specials. In fact, it’s the longest-running dramatic series ever to come out of Canada. As the official website explains, “For almost four decades, ‘Degrassi’ has been the seminal voice reflecting the lives of teenagers worldwide — being a source of both education and entertainment for generations. Degrassi’s legacy has solidified it as one of the most iconic brands in youth culture.” Chances are, you grew up with “Degrassi,” no matter how old you are.
Over the years, plenty of actors have appeared on the show. In fact, quite a few familiar faces got their start on “Degrassi” and went on to have massive careers. Other “Degrassi” stars ended up pursuing new careers after leaving the show. Interested in finding out where everyone ended up after the show? We’ve found out what happened to all your favorite “Degrassi” stars.
Shane Kippel has worked on other ventures since his time on Degrassi
Shane Kippel got his acting start as Gavin “Spinner” Mason on “Degrassi: The Next Generation” from 2001 to 2014. Spinner began his time on “Degrassi” as a bit of a bully, but after his friend was involved in a horrific accident, Spinner changed for the better. He eventually married Emma Nelson and reappeared in “Degrassi: Next Class.” After acting in “Degrassi” for around 15 years, Kippel took on a few new projects, including short films. In 2020, for example, he took on three short films, including “The Beacons of Gondor,” a fantasy film in which he both starred in and produced (via IMDb).
As Kippel explained in a 2014 Reddit interview, he started focusing more on music after “Degrassi.” “I am currently the drummer for Toronto-based rock band Dear Love, and we just released our debut EP a few weeks ago!,” he wrote. In 2018, Kippel reunited with many other “Degrassi” cast members for Drake’s “I’m Upset” music video. By the sounds of things, Kippel is still pursuing his various artistic endeavors. As he told a fan on Reddit, if he weren’t in the entertainment industry, he has no idea what he would do. As he put it, “I ask myself every day [what I would do instead].”
After Degrassi, Miriam McDonald took on other TV roles and eventually went into real estate
Miriam McDonald played Emma Nelson on “Degrassi: The Next Generation” from 2001 to 2010 and then returned for one episode of “Degrassi: Next Class” in 2016. Since her time on “Degrassi,” McDonald has worked on several other projects. In 2013, she appeared in two episodes of “Lost Girl” and one episode of “Orphan Black.” In 2014, she played Haley in the horror film “Wolves” alongside Lucas Till. She also appeared in “A Veteran’s Christmas,” “Letters to Satan Claus,” and “The Love Prank” in 2020 (via IMDb).
In 2018, McDonald spoke to E! News about her appearance in Drake’s “I’m Upset” video. “Us being in the same room together again just reminded us of what a unique childhood we all had and how we have this bond that will transcend time no matter what,” she said. One thing that’s not off the table? A “Degrassi” reboot. “Never say never,” she said. We can only cross our fingers that the producers have the same idea.
Since then, it seems that McDonald has given up acting. As her co-star Sarah Barrable-Tishauer told Refinery29, McDonald is now working as a real estate agent. This is probably for the best since she and former co-star Cassie Steele spoke about their experience being bullied for playing mean characters on TV.
Cassie Steele found her niche in voice acting and television movies after Degrassi
Cassie Steele played Manny Santos on “Degrassi.” You probably remember Manny, Emma’s friend, Paige’s rival, and one half of the iconic relationship with Jay. Steele was part of the “Degrassi” world from 2001 to 2010. Since then, she’s continued acting in various films and TV shows. In 2012, she played Abby in “The L.A. Complex,” a show about Canadian friends living in Los Angeles waiting for their big break. As she told Complex, the role was pretty relatable for her. “I went down there [to L.A.] to work on my music, which made it a bit easier for me because I wasn’t always waiting on everything.” In 2019, she starred in the Paul T. Murray film “Paint It Red” about a pair of bank robbers, and, as of 2021, she is set to star in a film called “Quiet in My Town” (via IMDb).
In addition to these credits, Steele’s biggest claim to fame is her work in the series “Rick and Morty” — Steele voiced the character of Tammy from 2014 to 2020. Steele has also spent some time creating a buzz on TikTok. In fact, she’s gained some attention for her recreations of well-known “Degrassi” outfits.
Sarah Barrable-Tishauer stepped away from acting entirely after Degrassi
Sarah Barrable-Tishauer played school president Liberty Van Zandt in “Degrassi” from 2001 to 2010. She appeared in one episode of “Degrassi: Next Class” in 2016, and she reunited with her castmates for Drake’s “I’m Upset” video. According to IMDb, these are Barrable-Tishauer’s only professional acting credits.
So, what has the former actress been up to instead? Well, as Refinery29 reported, the “Degrassi” star eventually became a DJ. After studying communication studies and marketing at Montreal’s Concordia University, Barrable-Tishauer nabbed a job at a marketing agency as an account manager. At the same time, she began spending her nights in the music world. As she told the publication, she loves her two jobs. “I’m balancing both [my job as an account manager] and I’d love, in the future, to be able to merge my two passions a bit more. Whether I DJ more regularly or also maybe be involved in planning events or marketing for DJs,” she said.
After her time on Degrassi ended, Lauren Collins pivoted to other television shows and to writing
Lauren Collins portrayed Paige Michalchuk on “Degrassi: The Next Generation,” a character who, in many ways, was the Queen Bee of the school, though she became ambitious, smart, and a little kinder with time. In addition to “Degrassi: The Next Generation,” Collins has appeared in numerous other projects. In 2006, she played Caitlin in the Antonio Banderas film “Take the Lead.” In 2007, she appeared alongside Anton Yelchin and Robert Downey Jr. in “Charlie Bartlett.” She starred in “Life with Derek” as Kendra and “The Best Years” as Alicia, and she’s also taken on roles in projects like “Being Erica,” “Murdoch Mysteries,” and “Impulse.” She’s even produced and written a few short films (via IMDb).
In 2018, Collins appeared on “Jobs in Showbiz” to discuss her career. She explained that she was pretty grateful to have worked on “Degrassi” before the age of social media. “I look at the kids that are on it now, and it’s a whole different ball game, and I can’t even imagine the pressure that that must create for them,” she said.
These days, Collins is also busy raising her young son, Charlie, whom she welcomed to the world in 2020.
Aubrey Drake Graham left Degrassi and became Drake
It’s safe to say that Drake is the most famous member of the “Degrassi” alumni. Before becoming the world-famous rapper who’s amassed fame and fortune, Drake was known as Aubrey Drake Graham, who played Jimmy Brooks, a basketball star who was left disabled after a school shooting, on “Degrassi.” Drake appeared on “Degrassi” until 2009, when he left the show after producers discovered he had been pursuing music at the same time. As he told W Magazine, “I’d spend a full day on set and then go to the studio to make music until 4 or 5 a.m. I’d sleep in my dressing room and then be in front of the cameras again by 9 a.m. Eventually, they realized I was juggling two professions and told me I had to choose” (via Mashable). As we know, he chose music.
Since then, Drake has released 10 albums. He’s also been nominated for a staggering 47 Grammy Awards, of which, as of this publication, he’s won four. In 2020, Vogue even called him “the world’s biggest pop star.”
However, the rapper never forgot his “Degrassi” roots. In 2018, he even reunited with several of his former co-stars for his “I’m Upset” music video.
Adamo Ruggiero took inspiration from his Degrassi role to become an LGBTQ activist
Adamo Ruggiero played Marco Del Rossi on “Degrassi.” Ruggiero continued acting after the show, appearing in “Being Erica,” “Saving Hope,” and “MsLabelled” (via IMDb).
Ruggiero’s “Degrassi” character struggled with his sexuality, and after leaving the show, Ruggiero was inspired to stand up for LGBTQ rights. In 2008, he spoke to CTV’s eTalk about his own personal journey. “[Marco] was questioning things that I was questioning, and I was just a kid,” Ruggiero recalled. As Ruggiero went on to say, he had finally decided to officially come out as gay with his 2008 cover for Fab Magazine. For Ruggiero, it was important to use his platform for good. As he put it, “The thing with ‘Degrassi,’ is it’s not the role we’re playing — we’ve become these role models and spokespeople for these issues.”
As of 2021, it’s clear that Ruggiero is still just as passionate about advocating for LGBTQ rights. As he wrote in 2019 on Instagram during Pride Week, “[Honored] to walk the parade with @actratoronto beside these fab actors to celebrate the diverse queer voices in our industry. A full circle moment.”
Stacey Farber's television fame only started with Degrassi
Stacey Farber played Ellie Nash on “Degrassi: The Next Generation” from 2002 to 2009. At the time, she was brand new to the entertainment industry. After her time on “Degrassi,” her career just kept getting bigger and bigger. She went on to star in series like “Cult,” “Saving Hope,” and “Diggstown.” She also appeared as a guest star on “Chicago Justice” as Kerry and on “Schitt’s Creek” as Rachel, Patrick’s ex-girlfriend. In 2021, she played Leslie Larr in the series “Superman and Lois” and Tara in the Netflix series “Virgin River” (via IMDb).
It’s clear that Farber has been working non-stop since her time on “Degrassi.” And, based on her social media, she couldn’t be happier with her career. In 2021, she captioned a pic of herself as a child on Instagram writing, “If I were to go back in time and tell her that eventually, as an adult, her job would involve shooting lasers out of her eyes, she’d consider her reflection in the mirror and say: ‘That makes sense.'” Apparently, the actress is also interested in pursuing other projects. In 2020, she even confessed to wanting to write a novel. Wow, we can’t wait to see what’s next for her!
Jake Epstein turned to theater after leaving Degrassi
You probably remember Jake Epstein as Craig from “Degrassi: The Next Generation.” After the show, Epstein continued acting with roles in “Designated Survivor,” “The Umbrella Academy,” and “A Storybook Christmas.” He also played Brian on “Suits” (via IMDb).
In addition to his work in TV and film, Epstein has racked up an impressive list of theater credits, both on Broadway and off. In 2011, he took over the titular role in “Spider-Man Turn Off the Dark” on Broadway. He later joined the U.S. tour of “American Idiot” and starred in “Beautiful: The Carole King Musical” on Broadway and “Straight” an off-Broadway musical. According to his Broadway World bio, he also wrote and starred in the play “Therefore Choose Life” in Toronto, Canada. As the actor told My Entertainment World, “I grew up idolizing Broadway. I spent my whole childhood dreaming of moving to New York and performing on those stages. The crazy thing is that I actually achieved that dream.” However, he went on to say that his journey to Broadway success wasn’t always easy — in fact, sometimes, it was almost impossible. “I’ve been living with the feeling of confusion about my life and my career,” he said. He eventually created a one-man show about these experiences.
Christina Schmidt took a page from her Degrassi character and became a model
Christina Schmidt played Terri on “Degrassi.” Aside from her appearance in Drake’s music video “I’m Upset” and roles in a short film and a TV movie in the early 2000s, Schmidt has no other acting credits to her name (via IMDb). That’s because she pursued a modeling career instead of an acting career after her “Degrassi” days.
In fact, as Schmidt told Fashion Magazine in 2020, she was inspired by her insecure character on “Degrassi” to become a body-positive model. “Growing up, I never thought I was an inspiration to anybody in any way,” she said. “I never realized that some of these young girls really needed someone to look up to.” However, many young girls saw Schmidt as an inspiration, and, in 2020, Schmidt was still receiving fan mail about her impact on curvy girls. When Schmidt finally realized how important her role had been, she made it her mission to stand for body positivity in her modeling work. “It’s about embracing everything and not being scared,” she said. “Never care what anybody thinks.”
Andrea Lewis has had a strong YouTube presence since leaving Degrassi
On “Degrassi,” Andrea Lewis played Hazel, Paige’s friend who eventually left Toronto, Canada, after graduation. After leaving the show, Lewis played Melissa on the series “Moccasin Flats.” She also appeared in “Beyond Complicated” and “The Number: The Reboot” (via IMDb).
In addition to her acting credits, Lewis has been busy with her own YouTube channel, which, as of 2021, has almost 40,000 subscribers. She uses the channel to publicize her acting work and chat with fans about topics like mental health and creativity. Despite her hugely popular channel, Lewis insists she isn’t a YouTuber. As she said on Mack on Demand, “When you put YouTube content out, you feel the pressure of being a ‘YouTuber’ and sometimes you are and then sometimes you’re not. And I’ve never felt like a YouTuber, I just felt like somebody who uses YouTube.” It sounds like Lewis is doing exactly what she wants to be doing — and she doesn’t need to put any labels on it.
Nina Dobrev left Degrassi to star in The Vampire Diaries
Most of us know Nina Dobrev from “The Vampire Diaries,” but before she was Elena, she played Mia on “Degrassi.” “The Vampire Diaries” was definitely a change of pace for the young actress. “With a vampire show come the night shoots and the long hours,” she told The Globe and Mail. “‘Degrassi’ had a large ensemble cast, so we wouldn’t shoot every day and, because it was a high-school show, most of the scenes were shot during the day.” She added, “Everything is different now.”
It’s true — everything did change for Dobrev thanks to “The Vampire Diaries.” She went on to appear in “Chloe,” “Perks of Being a Wallflower,” and “The Final Girls,” to name just a few of the projects that followed “Degrassi” (via IMDb). These days, she’s living the life of a movie star in Hollywood. And she’s always looking for her next artistic project. As she told Interview, “I don’t just want to do things that are the pretty girl with lots of makeup, I want to get into the gritty stuff and get down and dirty and dark and really feed my soul and not my vanity.” We can’t wait to see what’s next for her.
Daniel Clark left acting to pursue journalism after Degrassi
Daniel Clark played Sean on “Degrassi: The Next Generation” from 2001 to 2008. During his youth, he took on numerous other roles, including Steve in “Juno” (via IMDb). However, after his time on “Degrassi” came to an end, Clark pursued a new career path.
As he explained on the official “Degrassi” YouTube channel, “After I left the show I went to college… I went to NYU in New York City,” he said. Clark studied political science and eventually wound up working at ABC News. Wow, talk about a change of pace.
In 2018, Clark was notably absent from the unofficial “Degrassi” reunion in Drake’s “I’m Upset” music video. He spoke to TMZ about the omission, explaining that he had no idea why he wasn’t included. “I saw the music video and it was the first time I’d even heard about it,” he said. If he’d been asked, Clark would have “100%” participated. Yikes!
It seems that Clark is now pivoting away from journalism and back into acting. In 2020, he appeared in a short film called “Respect,” and, according to his Instagram, he is a producer and an actor.
A true Degrassi veteran, Stefan Brogren is finding his way after Degrassi
Stefan Brogren, who played Archie “Snake” Simpson on “Degrassi,” is one of the true “Degrassi” veterans. He appeared on the original series in the ’80s before returning for “Degrassi: The Next Generation,” then becoming the principal in “Degrassi: Next Class.” Basically, he played Snake for around 30 years! In addition to his work on “Degrassi,” Brogren appeared in some other projects, too, such as the 2020 TV movie “A Christmas Break” and an episode of “American Gods” in 2021 (via IMDb).
In addition to his acting work, Brogren has turned to directing since leaving “Degrassi.” After directing dozens of “Degrassi” episodes and TV movies, Brogren directed “A Chance for Christmas” for Tubi and “A Mother’s Lie” in 2021. He has also directed episodes of “Holly Hobbie,” “Raising Expectations,” “Open Heart,” and “The L.A. Complex.” He currently lives in Toronto, Canada, with his wife, comedian Michelle Shaughnessy.
Ryan Cooley gave up on acting after Degrassi to work for a digital agency
On “Degrassi,” Ryan Cooley played J.T. Yorke, the class clown who was killed in his final year at the school. Since leaving the show, Cooley appeared in the shows “The Dating Guy,” “Lost Girl,” and “Oh No! It’s an Alien Invasion,” according to IMDb. However, from the looks of his Instagram page, it seems he may have given up acting altogether. He’s now a VP for a digital agency called Konrad Group that helps brands plan their digital campaigns. Cooley also got engaged to his girlfriend, Stephanie, in 2019.
By the sounds of things, Cooley is pretty happy with his life now, even if he’s no longer in the entertainment industry. He even stays in touch with some of his old castmates. In 2017, for instance, Sarah Barrable-Tishauer told Refinery29, “I actually just recently made contact with Ryan again for the first time. I hadn’t talked to him in a long time. … Once you make that reconnection, it’s really nice.” We certainly love to hear it, too!
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