Degrassi: The Next Generation: Where Are They Now?

We check in on the iconic Canadian soap's cast, including Miriam McDonald, Jake Epstein and more, in honor of the anniversary of Drake's "I'm Upset" music video reunion
By Tierney Bricker Jun 13, 2020 7:00 AMTags
Related: Drake Shares 1st Pics of Son With Inspiring Message Amid COVID-19

 Whatever it takes!

Exactly two years ago to the minute, Drake nearly broke the Internet when he surprise-dropped the music video for his single "I'm Upset," which served as the ultimate Degrassi: The Next Generation reunion. 

Directed by Toronto native Karena Evans, the viral video was the first time the majority of the original cast in the same room together since the iconic Canadian series premiered in 2001, including Nina Dobrev, Shane Kippel, Lauren Collins, Adam Ruggiero and more of the rapper's former co-stars.

While some of the Degrassi stars' have made the jump to Hollywood since they graduated from the show, others have gone on to careers away from the cameras, but most of them answered to call when Drake asked them to stage the epic on-camera reunion.

"To bring this whole thing full circle back to where it all began for all of us made it an onscreen reunion for the fans but also a real one for all of us involved," Kippel wrote on Instagram after the top-secret video dropped on June 13, 2018. "All of the energy, laughter and fun captured in the video was as naturally occurring and genuine as can be. No acting involved."

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TV Cast Reunions That Made Our Nostalgia-Loving Hearts Swell

So what are your favorite stars from Degrassi: TNG up to now?

And why were some of them MIA from the music video reunion two years ago? Find out...

Aubrey Graham aka Drake

Um...he's Drake?

Degrassi's most successful alum, Aubrey Graham is better known as Drake, the rapper who has sold over 170 million records worldwide, won four Grammys, holds several major Billboard chat records, is the "global ambassador" for the Toronto Raptors and is one of the most famous people in the world. 

But for fans of the long-running series, he'll always be Jimmy Brooks, the basketball star who was paralyzed in Degrassi's infamous shooting episode, "Time Stands Still." Later on in the series, Graham's musical skills were put to good use, as Jimmy pursued a career as a rapper (Never forget: "Shut up girl and make my lunch!"), before deciding to undergo a stem cell surgery. Last seen in season eight, Jimmy planned on proposing to his girlfriend Trina.

Drake staged the ultimate reunion in 2018 for his "I'm Upset" music video, which has over 95 million views on YouTube. The power of the class of 2007! 

Drake shares son Adonis with ex Sophia Brussaux, with the superstar revealing the first photo of his two-year-old child in March 2020.

Nina Dobrev

Though her character Mia Jones, a teen mom-turned-model, was less than well-received (She was basically the cause of fan favorite J.T.'s tragic death!), Dobrev left the series in season nine after landing the lead role in the CW smash hit The Vampire Diaries, which she starred on for six seasons before announcing her exit in 2015. 

In addition to appearing in films such as The Perks of Being a Wallflower, XXX: The Return of Xander Cage and Flatliners, Dobrev returned to TV in 2019 to star in the CBS sitcom Fam, which won her the 2019 Teen Choice Award for Choice TV Actress Comedy.

After romances with her TVD co-star Ian Somerhalder and Grant Mellon, Dobrev recently began dating Olympian Shaun White.

Miriam McDonald

Emma Nelson was the reboot's female lead as she was the child of the original series' fan favorite, Spike. On the series, Emma went through it all (anorexia, gonorrhea, marijuana use, to name but a few), before McDonald left the show in season nine after marrying Spinner. (We still haven't gotten over that random coupling. Emma and Sean FTW!)

After taking a break from acting, McDonald appeared on Lost Girl and Orphan Black (which was a who's who of Degrassi alumni), and has worked as a real estate agent and yoga instructor.

Lauren Collins

One of TV's best mean girls, Collin's Paige had one of the show's most iconic catchphrases: "Hun." That one word said so much.

She also tackled some of the series' boldest storylines, including being raped, becoming the show's first bisexual character (Oh hey, Alex!) and becoming the first character to burn down her dorm room. Last we heard of Paige, she was working in Hollywood and had finally reconciled with Marco after their falling out in the movie. Phew!

Following Degrassi, Collins served as the host of MTV's 1 Girl 5 Gays, and has appeared on The Kroll Show, The Strain, Impulse and The Hot Zone.

 After marrying actor Jonathan Malen in October 2018, the couple welcomed their son Charlie in March 2020.

Jake Epstein

The series' original bad boy, Epstein played Craig Manning, the bipolar musically-inclined Degrassi stud, who dated Ashley, got Manny pregnant, trashed a hotel room, became a famous singer and developed a coke problem during his tenure on the series. But we still have one unanswered question lingering about Craig: Did he and Ellie end up together?! We need closure.

As of late, Epstein has taken to the stage, starring in Broadway productions such as Spider-Man: Turn Off the Dark and Beautiful: The Carole King Musical. He also starred in the first National tour of American Idiot and has played the romantic lead in several Lifetime Christmas movies.

In 2018, Epstein married Vanessa Smythe.

Cassie Steele

One of the series' most beloved characters, Steele's Manny was Emma's trusty sidekick-turned-school hottie and the focus of one of the show's most controversial episodes ever when she got an abortion in season three. Manny, who romanced Spinner, Craig and Jay during her nine-season run, ended the series as a successful actress in Hollywood. (And we're pretty sure her infamous topless video never leaked onto TMZ. Phew.)

Since leaving Degrassi, Steele starred in the CW's outrageously short-lived The L.A. Complex (rest in peace!) and launched a career as a musician. She's set to join the Disney family in 2021, providing the voice of Raya in Raya and the Last Dragon and voiced Tammy Gueterman in Rick & Morty.

Steele married Andi Mack star Trent Garrett in 2018. 

Adamo Ruggiero

Ruggiero joined the cast of Degrassi as fan-favorite Marco Del Rossi in 2002 after initially auditioning for Craig ("When in doubt kiss Craig?!"), becoming the show's first gay character and had one of the first LGBTQ+ kisses on Canadian television in 2004.

After graduating from Degrassi, Ruggiero remained on the show for one season when they tried to follow some of the characters to college, and he returned in later seasons as a teacher. Full-circle!

In 2008, Ruggiero came out, explaining Marco's struggles to come to terms with his sexuality on the show often mirrored his own in real-life, with some of Marco's coming out scenes being taken from his real conversations with family members. "Maybe it's life imitating art, or maybe that's what 'Degrassi' intended to do. I feel like I'm living proof of what the show wanted to accomplish," Ruggiero, who is an LGBTQ+ activist, told eTalk Canada at the time. 

From 2008-2012, Ruggiero hosted the Canadian reality competition series The Next, and hosted his own web series, Straight Talk with Adamo Ruggiero, where he interviewed his former co-stars.

Shane Kippel

Kippel starred as Spinner in over 180 episodes of the show, surviving a fallout with his entire friend group after Jimmy was shot, cancer, and ended his run on the show managing The Dot and married to Emma. He was one of the few original cast members to appear in Netflix's Degrassi: Next Class.

Following his run on the show, Kippel remained close with many of his former co-stars, including Drake, and is a musician, producer and is still acting.

"It could not have been more natural," Kippel told E! News of the cast's interactions in the "I'm Upset" video. "The energy that was caught on camera, nothing of that was played up for effect. That was how we were really feeling being in each other's presence, so I'm happy it translated. How it looked on-camera is exactly how it felt when the cameras stopped rolling."

Stacey Farber

Farber's character Ellie Nash (coolest name ever) was one of the series' best, in our humble opinion, thanks to her awesome sense of style and journalism aspirations.

After leaving Degrassi in season eight, Farber starred on the shortlived series 18 to Life, and has made appearances on hit shows like unREAL and Schitt's Creek, which was created by her best friend Daniel Levy. 

"I auditioned for Alexis and screen-tested for Stevie," she wrote in an Instagram caption, "but Rachel was MINE goddamnit (named for my Mom- duh) and besides, I much prefer the role I've had, watching him thrive off camera."

And she's still close with Drake, with the rapper once dubbing her his "Penny Lane." NBD.

Daniel Clark

Sean Cameron made being bad look so good. Come on, the white tank, the drag-racing, the eyebrows. No wonder both Emma and Ellie fell head over heels for Sean, who eventually enlisted in the Canadian army.

Aside from a small supporting role in Juno opposite Ellen Page, Clark left the acting world behind. After graduating from New York University, Clark went on to work as a news reporter on FusionTV's America with Jorge Ramos and as producer at ABC News. 

Degrassi fans were upset when Clark was left out of the "I'm Upset" reunion, with Clark commenting on Drake's Instagram, writing to his former co-star, "really sad I missed this. Brought back some amazing memories -- miss and love you brother." 

Shenae Grimes

Degrassi's first star to make the move to Hollywood, Grimes landed the juicy role of Annie Wilson (aka the new Brenda Walsh) in the CW's 90210 reboot. But fans of the series remember her as Darcy, the super religious cheerleader, who was raped in season seven. In one of the series' most memorable sendoffs, purely because of how random it was, Darcy left Degrassi (and boyfriend Peter) for Kenya.

Since 90210 ended, Grimes married British model Josh Beech and the couple welcomed their first child, a daughter named Bowie Scarlett, in September 2018. The 30-year-old also blogs about fashion, motherhood and more on her blog, Lost in LaLa, and has starred in projects such as Scream 4 and The Detail

Sarah Barrable-Tishauer

In another version of life imitating art, Barrable-Tishauer graduated as valedictorian from Concordia University, a few years after her character Liberty Van Zandt was named the valedictorian of Degrassi. We love that for them.

Since graduating from university, the 31-year-old works as a DJ and advocate, using the stage name Me Time "who engages dance music as a catalyst for social change," according to her website. She also worked as an account manager at a marketing company and talked about balancing her two careers in an interview with Refinery29 in 2017.

"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 of month because I just don't have a lot of time," she said. "So, it's kind of like I live this dual life Marketing by day, bass by night, but I'm really loving it."

Ryan Cooley

No, we can't look at Cooley without crying over his fan-favorite character J.T. Yorke's death in season six!

OK, now that we've got that out of the way: After his heartbreaking exit from the show, Cooley made an appearance on Lost Girl and starred in Oh No! It's an Alien Invasion before leaving the acting world behind. He's now the vice president of Konrad Group, a global digital agency, which Snake, his former media teacher, would probably take credit for. 

Cooley got engaged to his girlfriend Stefanie in February 2019. 

As for why Cooley was MIA in the "I'm Upset" music video, Drake responded to disappointed fans on Instagram, writing that Cooley "thought it was a scam" when he received a phone call about the reunion.

Andrea Lewis

Justice for Hazel! Lewis has the distinct honor of starring on Degrassi and co-starring in Cadet Kelly with Hilary Duff, an iconic Disney Channel Original Movie. 

After Hazel received her diploma from Degrassi, Lewis started her own company, Jungle Wild Productions, creating the web series Black Actress and Beyond Complicated. And on her YouTube channel, Lewis opens up about her time on Degrassi and posts lifestyle videos. 

Melissa McIntyre

Super serious about her music career, McIntyre's character Ashley Kerwin left the series after season 4, returning later for seasons 6 and 7. 

While she took a break from the acting world after her second goodbye on Degrassi, McIntyre recently appeared in FX's Mrs. America.

Christina Schmidt

If only Terri could see herself now! A series regular on the first three seasons, Schmidt exited the series after her character was put into a coma by her abusive boyfriend, Rick. 

After leaving the Canadian teen drama, Schmidt continued to have a successful modeling career, and recently was on the cover of Fashion Magazine in Canada. 

"Growing up, I never thought I was an inspiration to anybody in any way," she told the publication. "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."

She has a son named Orlando and is dating Landen Wakil.

Jake Goldsbie

Oh, Toby!

After appearing in eight seasons as Ashley's step-brother/J.T.'s sidekick turned Homecoming King, Golsbie went on to graduate from Concordia Unversity. He currently works as a producer and hosts two podcasts, Columbia House Party and Sportsfeld

In October 2019, Goldsbie announced he was engaged to his girlfriend Cassie

Mike Lobel

It's hard to believe Lobel managed to make troublemaking bully Jay Hogart so likable by the end of his six-season Degrassi run after he gave Emma gonorrhea at the ravine and was expelled for his role in the Jimmy's shooting. And yet he managed to do it!

After his time on Degrassi came to an end, Lobel starred on the Canadian teen comedy Really Me and appeared in the TV movie The Music in Me. The 36-year-old currently recurs on the CBC's Detention Adventure and was in the band Future Peers until it disbanded in December 2019.

One of the few co-stars that didn't get a call from Drake for the "I'm Upset" video, Lobel simply responded by tweeting, "I'm a little upset." Well played.