THEN AND NOW: The cast of 'Degrassi: The Next Generation'

·12 min read
nina dobrev degrassi then and now 2020
Nina Dobrev played Mia on "Degrassi." Epitome Pictures and Gregg DeGuire/WireImage
  • Canadian franchise "Degrassi" spawned the careers of stars like Nina Dobrev and Drake.

  • Since leaving the show, cast members have gone on to appear in other movies and shows, while others have fallen off the radar.

  • Visit Insider's homepage for more stories.

The "Degrassi" franchise is one that has been popular among teens for decades.

There are several iterations of the hit Canadian show, from "Degrassi High" to the most recent version, "Degrassi: Next Class."

Some cast members have gone on to become big names in Hollywood, most notably Drake and Nina Dobrev. Others have fallen off the radar and it's unclear what they've done since leaving the show. Many of the actors also appeared in Drake's 2018 music video for "I'm Upset," which was the ultimate high school reunion.

Here's what the stars of "Degrassi: The Next Generation" have been up to since you last saw them on the teen drama.

Before becoming known as Drake, the rapper went by his real name - Aubrey Graham - and played Jimmy Brooks on "Degrassi."

Drake as Jimmy Brooks on Degrassi
He was best friends with Spinner Mason. Epitome Pictures

He was the school's basketball star, but also a talented artist. On the infamous season four episode, Jimmy got paralyzed from the waist down and ended up in a wheelchair after Rick shot him.

Nowadays, Drake is more focused on his career as a musician.

drake september 2019
Drake in September 2019. David M. Benett/Dave Benett/WireImage

He has released five studio albums and the most recent one, titled "Scorpion," came out in June 2018. The album featured hits like "In My Feelings," "Nice for What," and "I'm Upset." The popularity of "In My Feelings," led to a viral dance challenge called "#InMyFeelingsChallenge" or "#KiKiChallenge."

Drake is also a four-time Grammy winner and 44-time nominee. He also proved that he hadn't lost his acting skills when he hosted "Saturday Night Live" in 2014 and 2016.

Since the release of his 2018 album, Drake has collaborated with artists like Travis Scott, Bad Bunny, and Chris Brown. He went on tour with Migos in 2018, too.

Drake released two EPs in 2018 and 2019, titled "Scary Hours" and "The Best in the World Pack."

In 2020, the musician dropped a mixtape called "Dark Lane Demo Tapes," which included the hit song "Toosie Slide."

In addition, he served as the executive producer for season one of HBO's drama series "Euphoria," which stars Emmy-winner Zendaya.

Shane Kippel played Spinner Mason.

shane kippel as spinner mason degrassi
He was a drummer. Epitome Pictures

When Spinner was introduced on season one, he started out as a bit of a bully, but redeemed himself.

After overcoming testicular cancer, he graduated from Degrassi, landed a job at the popular hangout called The Dot, and later married Emma Nelson.

Kippel is a musician and has been in a few different bands.

shane kippel I'm upset video
Kippel reunited with Drake in the "I'm Upset" music video and proved that their bromance will never die. OVO Sound/YouTube

The last time "Degrassi" fans saw Kippel as Spinner was on season 2 of "Degrassi: Next Class." In real life, Kippel kept busy as a drummer in the band Dear Love, which has since broken up.

His Instagram is filled with selfies, sweet photos with his girlfriend, snaps with his furry friend, and the occasional throwback with his "Degrassi" costars.

Kippel teamed up with "Degrassi" costars Raymond Ablack and Dalmar Abuzeid for a short released in 2020 called "The Beacons of Gondor."

Ellie Nash was portrayed by Stacey Farber

ellie nash on degrassi
She started out on the show with a punk look. Epitome Pictures

The redhead was first seen on season 2. Upon graduating, she attended Toronto University  and wrote for the campus paper, "The Core."

Farber stars on a CBC drama called "Diggstown."

stacey farber diggstown
Stacey Farber on "Diggstown." CBC

In July 2020, the show got renewed for a third season.

From 2014 to 2017, Farber starred on the medical drama "Saving Hope." She has also appeared on comedies like "Schitt's Creek," "Grace and Frankie," and "UnREAL."

In addition, she appeared on two episodes of TNT's "Animal Kingdom."

She occasionally posts old photos from her "Degrassi" days, too.

Based on her Instagram, Farber seems to be good friends with "Schitt's Creek" star Dan Levy.

In a post congratulating Levy on the show's 2020 Emmy nominations, Farber said that they were roommates years ago and she actually auditioned for Alexis Rose (played by Annie Murphy) and screen-tested for Stevie Budd (Emily Hampshire), meaning she came close to the latter role.

Farber will reportedly appear on The CW's upcoming Arrowverse show "Superman and Lois."

Adamo Ruggiero played Marco Del Rossi.

marco del rossi degrassi
His last appearance on the show was in 2016. Epitome Pictures

Marco was introduced on season 2 and went on to become the valedictorian of his graduating class. He landed a job as a teacher and returned to his alma mater as a member of the faculty.

Ruggiero continues to act, mainly in shorts and the occasional TV role.

adamo ruggiero instagram
Adamo Ruggiero in May 2019. Adamo Ruggiero/Instagram

Ruggiero is still good friends with his "Degrassi" costars, especially Lauren Collins — who played his on-screen best friend Paige.

He also appeared on an episode of OUTtv's "Fabulocity."


Paige Michalchuk was played by Lauren Collins.

paige degrassi played by lauren collins
She was an active member (and founder) of the cheerleading team Epitome Pictures

After graduating, she briefly attended Banting University and left after suffering from frequent panic attacks. She went on to star in a movie and become an assistant.

Collins continues to act, and has starred on TV series and movies.

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Lauren Collins in an Instagram photo shared in March 2020. Lauren Collins/Instagram

She reprised her "Degrassi" role on an episode of "Degrassi: Next Class" and appeared in the 2018 Netflix holiday movie "The Christmas Chronicles."

She also starred on the YouTube original series "Impulse," which lasted for two seasons.

Collins married Jonathan Malen in October 2018 and the couple welcomed a son named Charlie Sebastian Malen in March 2020.

Jake Epstein played Craig Manning, one of Degrassi's aspiring musicians.

jake epstein craig manning degrassi
His role earned him several Young Artist Award nominations. Epitome Pictures

He was part of the school's drama club, became a signed artist, and moved to Vancouver to pursue a career as a solo artist. Craig returned to Degrassi years later to perform for the younger generation of students.

Epstein is now a Broadway star.

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Jake Epstein in September 2018. Amanda Edwards/WireImage

Epstein left "Degrassi" to attend acting school, then went on to star in theater productions. Aside from tours for "Spring Awakening" and "American Idiot," he starred in Broadway shows.

He made his debut in "Spider-Man: Turn off the Dark" and has since starred in the Tony-winning show "Beautiful." He was also in the 2016 off-Broadway show "Straight."

You may have seen Epstein on "Designated Survivor" and "Suits," too.

Ashley Kerwin was portrayed by Melissa McIntyre.

ashley kerwin degrassi
She had a huge style evolution throughout the show. Epitome Pictures

She often showcased her musical skills by singing and playing the piano. Ashley and Craig sometimes disagreed over music, but they ended up touring Europe together.

McIntyre appeared on season one of "Mrs. America" and Drake's "I'm Upset" music video.

jake epstein and melissa mcintyre i'm upset music video
McIntyre in the music video for "I'm Upset." OVO Sounds/YouTube

She lives in Toronto, loves baking cookies, and has a toy poodle. In October 2019, she and Kippel reunited while attending a convention in London.

Rick Murray was played by Ephraim Ellis.

ephraim ellis as rick murray in degrassi
Rick is part of one of "Degrassi's" most notable storylines. Epitome Pictures

Rick will forever be known as the character who put Jimmy Brooks in a wheelchair. In the events leading up to that incident, Rick abused his girlfriend (which led to her ending up in a coma). When he returned to Degrassi, he got bullied and reached a breaking point after getting humiliated in front of the student body.

Angry, he brought a gun to school with the intention to kill students that mistreated him. Thinking that Jimmy played a role in the prank against him, he shot him.

When Sean tried to convince him to put the gun down, the two ended up in an altercation that resulted in Rick getting shot and killed.

Nowadays, Ellis has a shorter haircut and no glasses.

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Ephraim Ellis on "V-Wars." Netflix

After "Degrassi," Ellis continued to appear on other TV shows, like "Falcon Beach," "Family Biz," and "Murdoch Mysteries."

He also appeared in Drake's "I'm Upset" music video, which included a reference to his character's memorable "Degrassi" scene.

Most recently, he appeared on an episode of Netflix's vampire-centric show "V-Wars," which starred Ian Somerhalder.

His Instagram profile features photos of his cat, selfies, and photos from his travels. He's a big fan of "Star Wars," too.

Emma Nelson was portrayed by Miriam McDonald.

emma nelson degrasi
She was the stepdaughter of Principal Simpson. Epitome Pictures

She was best friends with Manny Santos, and the two knew each other since they were children.

After graduating, she went to Smithdale University with Manny and Liberty. She tied the knot with Spinner in "Degrassi Takes Manhattan."

McDonald hasn't done too much acting since "Degrassi."

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Miriam McDonald in December 2019. Miriam McDonald/Instagram

She was on one episode of "Orphan Black" in 2013 and the 2014 movie "Wolves." She also reprised her role as Emma for one episode of "Degrassi: Next Class" in 2016.

In 2018, McDonald appeared in the 2018 Hallmark movie "A Veteran's Christmas."


Cassie Steele played Manny Santos, a popular student at Degrassi.

cassie steele as manny santos on degrassi
During her senior year, she went blonde. Epitome Pictures

After high school, Manny went to Smithdale and studied acting. She later ended up in Hollywood.

Steele has voiced characters on the animated show "Rick and Morty."

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Cassie Steele in September 2019. Gabriel Olsen/Getty Images

She appeared in the 2010 Disney Channel movie "My Babysitter's a Vampire" and on a drama series called "The L.A. Complex."

Aside from acting, Steele also sings. She has released two studio albums and two EPs.

Jake Goldsbie played Toby Isaacs, Ashley's stepbrother.

toby isaacs degrassi
Toby graduated during the same year as Emma and Manny. Epitome Pictures

Toby was introduced during the first season and was last seen on season 9. He was also good friends with J.T., though they had ups and downs.

Goldsbie doesn't act much these days, but he runs podcasts.

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Jake Goldsbie in October 2019. Jake Goldsbie/Instagram

One podcast is called Sportsfeld, which is fitting since Goldsbie is a big fan of soccer and baseball (among other sports). The other, launched in October 2019, is called Columbia House Party and he discusses music on it.

He also got engaged in January 2019 and got married in November 2020.

Liberty Van Zandt was played by Sarah Barrable-Tishauer.

liberty van zandt Sarah Barrable-Tishauer
Liberty had a baby with J.T., but they gave the child up for adoption. Epitome Pictures

She was a highly motivated student, and oftentimes viewed as an overachiever. Unsurprisingly, she was the valedictorian of her graduating class.

Barrable-Tishauer is now a DJ and music curator.

sarah barrable tishauer instagram december 2019
Sarah Barrable-Tishauer in December 2019. Sarah Barrable-Tishauer/Instagram

She graduated from Concordia University in 2012. Like her "Degrassi" character, she was named the valedictorian.

In addition to being a DJ, she was also a program manager for Project Dandelion for a few months (as indicated by her LinkedIn profile).

Dalmar Abuzeid played Liberty's younger brother, Danny Van Zandt.

danny van zandt degrassi
He was a musician in the band Stüdz with Sav and Peter. Epitome Pictures

He started off as the stereotypical, pesky younger sibling, but changed significantly. Danny even ended up at Cornell University.

Abuzeid starred as Sebastian "Bash" Lacroix on Netflix's "Anne With an E."

dalmar abuzeid anne with an e
Dalmar Abuzeid on "Anne With an E." Netflix

He also starred on the Canadian sitcom "Crawford," the AT&T original "Condor," and WGN's "Pure."

Connor DeLaurier was portrayed by A.J. Saudin.

connor degrassi
He later dated Jenna. Epitome Pictures

When Connor was first introduced, he was social awkward, studious, and particular about things. He was bullied by other students, but retained a core group of friends that included K.C., Claire, and Alli.

Saudin has grown up since playing a teenager.

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A.J. Saudin in an Instagram photo shared in June 2020. A.J. Saudin/Instagram

He hasn't starred 0n any shows or in films since "Degrassi," but he is involved in the music world. In 2016, he released his first single, "Sunset," and released an EP called "Before I Met You" the following year. His most recent work was an EP titled "Nocturnal Nirvana."

Saudin also walked during runway shows.

Nina Dobrev played Mia Jones, a student originally from Degrassi's rival school, Lakehurst

nina dobrev as mia jones on degrassi
She joined the show during season 6. Epitome Pictures

She was initially treated with hostility by some students, since she was a teen mom.

Throughout the show Mia juggled being a parent, student, and cheerleader. She eventually became a model and left Degrassi to build her career in Europe.

Dobrev is now known for her role as Elena Gilbert on the hit CW show "The Vampire Diaries."

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Nina Dobrev in January 2020. Kevin Mazur/Getty Images for InStyle

Dobrev's role on "TVD" has earned her several awards, from People's Choice Awards to Teen Choice Awards. She has also starred in movies like "The Perks of Being a Wallflower," "Let's Be Cops," "xXx: Return of Xander Cage," and "Flatliners."

More recently, she starred on the CBS sitcom "Fam," which got canceled after one season.

Next, she'll star in a Netflix rom-com called "Love Hard" alongside "Never Have I Ever" breakout actor Darren Barnet.

Paula Brancati portrayed Jane Vaughn.

jane vaughn degrassi
She dated Spinner at one point. Epitome Pictures

As a student at Degrassi, Jane was a member of the football team and the lead singer of Janie and the Studs. 

After graduating as the valedictorian of her class, Jane went to college in California.

Brancati most recently appeared on the show "Workin' Moms" and the 2019 holiday movie "Grounded for Christmas."

Paula Brancati from Degrassi
She joined "Degrassi" during season 7. Paula Brancati/Instagram

She starred on the horror anthology series "Slasher." "Degrassi" alums Melinda Shankar and Lauren Collins also appeared on the show.


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