Degrassi: The Next Generation first aired 18 long years ago in 2001, and ran until 2015, with a total of 381 episodes. The show began as a spinoff of previous series Degrassi High and The Kids of Degrassi Street, and later spawned the currently-airing Degrassi: Next Class.
During that time, we witnessed the show's young stars deal with all of life’s problems in real and emotional ways that weren’t played up for soapy dramatics the way so many other teen shows have before and since. These kids were awkward, with baby fat and braces, and we saw them blossom, both as actors and characters, as the show wore on. While star Drake, who played Jimmy Brooks, is the most recognizable success story from the Degrassi alumni, we looked at 19 more stars and what they’re up to (and look like) now.
20 Miriam McDonald: 2001 vs. 2019
As Emma Nelson, Miriam McDonald was the tie that brought together the earlier iteration of Degrassi High, as Emma was the daughter of character Spike Nelson. McDonald was on the series as a star from 2001 to 2010, and hasn’t done a whole lot since, appearing in a few one-off episodes of shows like Orphan Black and Lost Girl.
19 Cassie Steele: 2001 vs. 2019
Playing Emma’s BFF Manny Santos, Steele gave us a heartbreaking portrayal that saw her young character deal with a lot of trauma at an early age, especially for someone so bubbly. Steele was also on the show from 2001 to 2010 and has since lent her voice talents to Rick and Morty and embarked on a singing career.
18 Daniel Clark: 2001 vs. 2019
As bad boy with a heart of gold Sean Cameron, Daniel Clark was Emma’s long-time love, until she unexpectedly wed Spinner in Degrassi Goes Hollywood. Clark has aged like a fine wine, but his last acting credit was over 10 years ago when he finished his run on Degrassi: The Next Generation in 2008.
17 Lauren Collins: 2001 vs. 2019
Playing Mean Girl Paige Michalchuk, we witnessed Lauren Collins’ character grow from shallow and petty with on-off romances to a fully-realized young woman who was in charge of herself and her sexuality. Collins has also continued to act on television and in film, and just last month announced that she was expecting her first child!
16 Shane Kippel: 2001 vs. 2019
For a long time, everyone expected Spinner Mason and Paige to end up together, only for things to take a turn and see him walk down the aisle with Emma. Kippel remained on the show for longer than most, sticking around from 2001 to 2014 for 181 episodes. He’s now focused on his music, drumming with his band Dear Love.
15 Shenae Grimes: 2004 vs. 2019
Shenae Grimes (now known by her married name Shenae Grimes-Beech) was introduced as a conservative girlfriend to tame Spinner’s wild ways. Of course, in true Degrassi fashion, she ends up spiraling wildly out of control and was later written out of the series to join 90210, while her sister Clare (played by Aislinn Paul) took over as the new series lead.
14 Jake Epstein: 2002 vs. 2019
The troubled boy we all wanted to save, Jake Epstein’s Craig Manning was brooding and attractive and had multiple characters fall in love with him over the course of the show. After leaving the series in 2008, Epstein went on to appear in Suits and Designated Survivor. He’s also starred in hit Broadway shows, like Spider-Man: Turn Off the Dark.
13 Melissa McIntyre: 2001 vs. 2019
We best remember Ashley Kerwin as the Gothic on-off girlfriend of Craig, but in season one, she was much more gentle and reserved. She also left Degrassi in 2008 and that is her last acting credit! She shares a fair amount of Degrassi throwbacks on her social media and, fortunately, her eyebrow game has significantly improved.
12 Stacey Farber: 2002 vs. 2019
The other Goth to Ashley was Stacey Farber’s Ellie Nash, who dealt with an alcoholic mother and feelings for her best friend Marco (and later, Craig). Farber has kept busy on Canadian TV, appearing in episodes of Schitt’s Creek, Rookie Blue, and Saving Hope. Her social media presence is about as quirky and natural as we’d expect from the actress!
11 Adamo Ruggiero: 2002 vs. 2019
As Marco, the guy who was struggling with his identity from the outset of the series, Adamo Ruggiero was able to play a fleshed-out queer character when very few were seen on TV. Appearing in occasional one-off episodes of various TV shows, Ruggiero is still tight with his Degrassi costars, especially Lauren Collins.
10 Ryan Cooley: 2001 vs. 2019
As J.T. Yorke, we saw actor Ryan Cooley graduate from impish prankster to a young father whose life was brutally cut short by a stabbing outside a party. It is regularly considered the most tragic episode of the entire series. Cooley has mostly kept to voice acting since and proposed to his girlfriend back in February!
9 Sarah Barrable-Tishauer: 2001 vs. 2019
As J.T.’s romantic other half, Liberty Van Zandt, Sarah Barrable Tishauer began the series in 2001 as a bookish, irritating presence, before evolving into a woman who gave her child up for adoption and dealt with the death of her baby daddy. Since Degrassi, Barrable-Tishauer has become a DJ known as DJ Me Time!
8 Jake Goldsbie: 2001 vs. 2019
The platonic other half of J.T. Yorke was undoubtedly Toby Isaacs, who also happened to be Ashley’s stepbrother. The role was played by Jake Goldsbie from 2001 to 2009, but acting has gone largely by the wayside for him lately. He now co-hosts a podcast titled “Sportsfeld”, which is described as “The podcast about nothing”.
7 Mike Lobel: 2003 vs. 2019
As bad-boy Jay Hogart, Mike Lobel was pretty unlikeable when he was first introduced, thanks to his behavior and treatment of women. As the series progressed, though, he evolved into someone who ended up with Manny Santos! In real life, Lobel has significantly reduced his acting and chosen to get pretty into rock climbing.
6 Deanna Casaluce: 2003 vs. 2019
When she was first introduced as Alex Nũnez, Deanna Casaluce was a girl who was always itching for a fight. Later, as we saw her deal with her mother and fall in love with Paige, we understood her more. Casaluce retired from acting in 2008, married and changed her name to Deanna Klymkiw, and is a PhD candidate of Psychology at Ryerson University!
5 Nina Dobrev: 2006 vs. 2019
One of the best-known former cast members of Degrassi has to be Nina Dobrev, who played young mom Mia Jones from 2006 to 2009. Of course, Dobrev has gone on to star in The Vampire Diaries and appear in plenty of other movies since she left the halls of Degrassi. She regularly pops up at illustrious Hollywood events.
4 Jamie Johnston: 2005 vs. 2019
Playing the privileged and problematic son of Principal Hatzilakos, Peter Stone, Jamie Johnston is one of two stars we looked at who doesn’t have social media! While he entered into the show’s 5th season as a love interest for Emma (and later, Darcy), he left in 2010. He reappeared in Degrassi: Next Class for a few episodes back in 2016.
3 Christina Schmidt: 2001 vs. 2019
Christina Schmidt was more of a supporting player as Terri MacGregor, and was only on for three seasons. In that time, we witnessed Terri struggle with her body image and fall into an abusive relationship with her boyfriend Rick. In a weird art-imitates-life situation, Schmidt – like her character – has since become a very successful plus-size model!
2 Ephraim Ellis: 2003 vs. 2019
Playing the hated Rick, Ephraim Ellis was behind one of the most dramatic storylines in the series’ history, watching a school shooting unfold in the halls of Degrassi. Ellis was only around for 10 episodes, but his portrayal made a major impact. Since then, he’s kept busy with a few TV episodes and indie films.
1 Aubrey Graham: 2001 vs. 2019
Probably better known as Drake, the rapper and hip-hop mega-star, he used to be best known as the wheelchair-bound Jimmy Brooks, back when he was going by the name Aubrey Graham. Since leaving the show in 2009, Drake’s focus has been on music, releasing five studio albums and winning four Grammy Awards.