If you were a pre-teen girl or boy in the early 2000s, chances are you had an obsession with Degrassi: The Next Generation at one point or another. Whether or not you liked to admit it, the dramatic lives of the Canadian students was like a guilty pleasure. Just one episode later and all your problems seemed minor and insignificant compared to the many issues of the students at Degrassi Community School.
The Canadian drama followed the lives of teenage students who faced the typical challenges of teenage life including peer pressure, bullying, lack of self-confidence and of course- relationships. The series was known for pushing the boundaries on many occasions, and wasn’t afraid to cover the more sensitive topics such as mental illness, school violence, teen pregnancy, physical assault along with problems associated with drinking and illegal substances. The series became a huge success not only in Canada, but all around the world, especially in the US- where it was aired late at night due to its controversial nature.
Although Degrassi is still airing with the newest generation of students in Degrassi: Next Class, Degrassi: The Next Generation was the original (besides Degrassi Junior High of course) and the early cast will never be forgotten. The actors and actresses of the series, who are now in their late 20s and 30s, have all since moved on from their Degrassi days. While some of them went on to much bigger and better things (ahem, like Drake who played handicapped Jimmy before reaching his ultimate fame) others struggled to find work in the industry or decided to leave their acting career behind all together.
Although chances are it has been a while since you thought about the series, maybe it is time to brush up on your Degrassi knowledge and catch up with your favorite characters (and former crushes) of Degrassi.
Lauren Collins as Paige – Then
Paige was the typical popular cheerleader. She was ruthless and selfish and was seen as the show’s resident mean girl. After the first few seasons, she calms down a bit and we get to see her softer side, especially after she had to deal with some pretty significant trauma in her life such as issues with assault, illegal substances and extreme anxiety.
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Lauren Collins as Paige – Now
After Lauren’s solid 8-year run on Degrassi, it was time for her to move on. Although she will most likely always be recognized as Paige, she has had a pretty steady acting career. She appeared in shows like Murdoch Mysteries: Nightmare on Queen Street and most recently The Strain. The now 31-year-old also has appeared in a few films such as Take the Lead and Servitude.
Drake as Jimmy Brook – Then
Jimmy comes from a wealthy family, and was the school’s basketball star until the getting shot in the infamous school shooting. He was left paralyzed from the waist down and spent the remainder of his time on the show in a wheel chair. Although he was once down to earth, humble and open-minded, after he was shot he was left feeling bitter and on edge and he was never the same.
Drake as Jimmy Brook- Now
This name needs no introduction, as you probably are already well aware that Drake is now one of the most famous hip hop artists around. The 31-year-old three-time Grammy winner was not always rapping and singing next to Kanye and Lil Wayne, he got his start on Degrassi. After 6 years on the show, he decided to pursue a career in rapping and we think he made a good choice… what do you think?
Melissa McIntyre as Ashley Kerwin – Then
Ashley was first seen as the well-liked yet insecure overachiever who dated Jimmy in the first season. However, after her downfall at the end of season one, where she decides to take illegal substances, she loses all of her friends and her clean reputation. She ends up drastically changing her style several times while she tries to “find herself.” She eventually gets her life and her friends back, and even joins Craig’s band and tours with him in Europe.
Melissa McIntyre as Ashley – Now
After Melissa left Degrassi in 2008, she decided to also leave her acting career behind. She managed to stay out of the public eye for a few years until finally re-emerging for a brief period of time as a singer in former INXS frontman J.D. Fortune’s band called Fortune. Now, the 31-year-old seems to be staying on the down low and keeping her private life private.
Jake Epstein as Craig Manning – Then
Back in the day, most Degrassi fans were head over heels for the sensitive musician Craig Manning. Of course, he had his on-screen issues just like the rest of the cast including cheating on his girlfriend at the time, Ashley, with Manny. He was diagnosed with bipolar disorder in the fourth season, and then struggled with illegal substances (surprise, surprise) a few seasons later.
Jake Epstein as Craig Manning – Now
After Jake left the show in 2008, he continued to appear in minor roles in series here and there, until he ultimately pursued a career on stage. In 2009, he joined the national tour of Spring Awakening and later on joined the cast of American Idiot. In 2012 he made his Broadway debut as Spider-Man’s alternate in Spider-Man: Turn Off the Dark. The following year he played Gerry Goffin in Broadway’s Beautiful: The Carole King Musical. Nowadays, the 30-year-old is appearing in TV shows such as Suits and Designated Survivor.
Stacey Farber as Ellie Downs – Then
Ellie joined the cast of Degrassi in the second season as the new goth girl in school. As the years went by she slowly toned down on her all-black goth style. She, like everyone else on the show, had her share of issues including a father who abandoned her and a mother who had a drinking problem. This often led to her trying to cause harm to herself. Eventually she goes to a group therapy and she overcomes her problems. She is known for her passion for journalism and her massive crush on Craig.
Stacey Farber as Ellie Downs – Now
Just like her on-screen character, Stacey has a passion and talent for writing. She ended up attending The New School in NYC and interned for the magazine Teen Vogue. She decided to return to acting after her internship and was casted in shows like 18 to Life, Cult and most recently Saving Hope. The 30-year-old’s next role will be in the upcoming third season of the Lifetime series UnReal.
Sarah Barrable-Tishauer as Liberty Van Zandt – Then
Liberty was the slightly geeky and incredibly smart overachiever. Although in the first couple of seasons she was seen as the clingy and annoying girl that no one wanted to be friends with, she gets less annoying and more popular as time goes on. At 15, she gets pregnant with boyfriend J.T. Yorke. Although she was set on keeping the baby, the two teenage parents end up deciding that it is best to give up the baby for adoption.
Sarah Barrable-Tishauer as Liberty Van Zandt – Now
Sarah decided to quit acting all together after leaving Degrassi, although she did appear in the Degrassi movie and in a Throwback Thursday episode on Degrassi: Next Class in 2016. She decided to get an education and attended Concordia University in Montreal until she graduated in 2012. The 29-year-old is now working as an Account Manager for the Toronto-based marketing agency Behaviour.
Daniel Clark as Sean Cameron – Then
Sean was the “bad boy” who had an on-again off-again relationship with Emma. Although he was considered one of the bad boys in school, he was actually a pretty nice guy who meant well but just made a few mistakes here and there. Later on, he decided to make a goal of becoming a more responsible person, and he ends up becoming a hero after saving Emma’s life during the school shooting. Sean eventually leaves during the seventh season to join the army, and is then sent to Afghanistan.
Daniel Clark as Sean Cameron – Now
Daniel was known pre-Degrassi in the ’90s for his roles in shows like Goosebumps and Are You Afraid of the Dark? Besides appearing in the movie Juno in 2007, Daniel hasn’t acted much since playing the role of Sean. He eventually left the world of acting behind him in order to study at NYU. Since he has graduated, the 32-year-old has worked in a handful of media jobs and is currently the Managing Director for a Toronto-based meal-delivery service called eFresh Meals.
Shenae Grimes as Darcy Edwards – Then
Darcy made her first appearance in the fourth season of Degrassi as an extremely religious and conservative Christian girl. A couple seasons later when she was treated inappropriately at a party, she falls into a deep depression and even tries to take her own life. She spiraled out of control and began making horrible decisions that ruined her reputation. Eventually she is able to overcome her traumatic past and ends up moving to Kenya in order to help build schools.
Shenae Grimes as Darcy Edwards – Now
Shenae decided to leave Degrassi after she was cast as Annie Wilson in the CW series 90210. In 2011, she landed a role as Trudie in Scream 4. After five years and five seasons on 90210, she went on to be casted in primarily made-for-TV movies such as Newlywed and Dead and The Mechanics of Love. The 28-year-old got married in 2013 to English indie folk singer Josh Beech.
Ryan Cooley as J.T. Yorke – Then
J.T. Yorke was the adorable class clown on Degrassi, and he was known for his lovable nature and great sense of humor. Everyone in Degrassi knew and loved him, and he was in love with Liberty for the majority of his time on the show. He left Degrassi in the sixth season in one the show’s most memorable scenes. He was stabbed and killed in front of Emma’s house during Liberty’s 17th birthday party by a fellow student who had been drinking too much, Drake Lempkey.
Ryan Cooley as J.T. Yorke – Now
Luckily, Ryan’s life has turned out better than J.T’s. After he left Degrassi he decided to take a break from acting in order to focus on getting a college degree. He ended up attending the University of Toronto. After he graduated, he made a brief comeback in 2013 where he played the voice of Louis in the Canadian animated series Oh No! It’s an Alien Invasion. Since then, the 29-year-old has been living a life in privacy and is out of the limelight for the time being.
Andrea Lewis as Hazel Aden – Then
Hazel was a young Muslim woman who was also Paige’s sidekick and BFF. She was very close with Jimmy and later they turned their friendship into a two-year romantic relationship, which was one of the longer relationships on the show. After the school shooting, and after Jimmy became paralyzed, they begin to drift apart. Hazel ends up breaking up with him after accusing him of having feelings for Ellie.
Andrea Lewis as Hazel Aden – Now
After saying goodbye to the Degrassi cast in 2006, Andrea got casted right away in another Canadian drama series called Moccasin Flats. Since then, she has had a few minor roles here and there and most recently was seen as Sasha in series titled The Number: The Reboot. The 32-year-old is also a singer, and released her last record in 2010 titled 5-4-3-2-1, which you can listen to for free on her website.
Shane Kippel as Spinner – Then
Spinner was first portrayed as the class bully, whose bullying led to the school shooting and to his best friend Jimmy getting shot and paralyzed. After his friends found out that the incident was partly his fault, he changed his ways and his friends forgave him. Later in the series he gets diagnosed with cancer, but goes into remission. Spinner left the show in the ninth season, after getting married to Emma.
Shane Kippel as Spinner – Now
Shane was one of the actors who stuck with Degrassi the longest. After nine years on the show he decided to move on and took minor roles in series and movies. A year after he departed from the series he appeared as Davis in the Thriller movie Dog Pound. He returned as Spinner for a couple episodes in Degrassi: Next Class in 2016, but since has taken a break from acting. The 31-year-old is now focusing on music and is the drummer of the Toronto rock band Dear Love.
Nina Dobrev as Mia Jones – Then
Mia made her first appearance in the sixth season as a single teen mom. After she got pregnant by an older student named Lucas at the age of 13, she decided to keep the baby and gave birth to her daughter Isabella. Lucas left her when she became pregnant and she was left raising her daughter alone, with the help of her mother. She eventually ended up leaving Degrassi for Paris in order to pursue a career in modeling.
Nina Dobrev as Mia Jones – Now
After Nina left Degrassi, she was casted in her most famous role yet, as lead Elena Gilbert in CW’s The Vampire Diaries. The 28-year-old has also appeared in several big films such as The Perks of Being a Wallflower, Let’s Be Cops and xXx: Return of Xander Cage (alongside Vin Diesel.) The lovely actress has been dating Scream Queens actor Glen Powell since last summer.
Cassie Steele as Manny Santos – Then
Manny was originally portrayed on the show as the sweet and innocent student of Degrassi. However, as time went by she put her popularity above everything else and ended up making poor decisions that she ended up regretting. She started to become promiscuous and ends up getting pregnant as 14, but chooses not to keep the baby. Later on, she decides to pursue a career in acting.
Cassie Steele as Manny Santos – Now
Cassie Steele got casted in the series The L.A. Complex after leaving Degrassi, and then continued to appear in small roles in TV series and made-for-TV movies. Most recently, she has been working as a voice actress for the animated series Rick and Morty. The 27-year-old has also pursued a career in music and has released three albums, her most recent being an EP in 2014 called Patterns.
Christina Schmidt as Terri MacGregor – Then
Terri was Ashley’s best friend who was insecure about her weight. She later gains some success as a plus-size model, but her life takes a turn for the worse after dating her abusive boyfriend Rick. Although her friends urged her to leave him, she didn’t listen to them. Eventually he pushes her so hard that her head hits a rock and she goes into a concussion. Luckily, she woke up, but sadly, she never returned to Degrassi.
Christina Schmidt as Terri MacGregor – Now
Christina, like her on-screen character, decided to pursue a career as a model after leaving her short-lived acting career behind her. She is currently signed with the agencies MP Miami and Plutino Models. and The 30-year-old is also pretty active on social media, and often posts pictures of her looking fierce on the job and of her adorable blue-eyed little boy on her Instagram page.
Miriam McDonald as Emma Nelson – Then
Emma was the daughter of Degrassi Junior High’s Spike and Shane McKay, and was therefore literally the “next generation.” She was originally portrayed as a “good girl” and young activist and environmentalist who was always speaking out and protesting for certain causes. However, as time goes on she changes after having to deal with tough issues such as cyber danger and eating disorders. She and Spinner end up getting married in their ninth (and their final) season.
Miriam McDonald as Emma Nelson – Now
After nine years on Degrassi, Miriam went out in search for more acting roles. She ended up landing minor roles in TV series like XIII: The Series, Lost Girl and Orphan Black. Her last acting credit was as Haley in the 2014 horror film Wolves. The 30-year-old is currently single, but famously dated three costars including Marc Minardi (Lucas), Ryan Cooley (J.T.) and on-screen husband Shane Kippel (Spinner.)