The Backstories To Every ‘Degrassi’ Character Featured In Drake’s “I’m Upset” Video
Drake’s latest music video might take the cake as the top visual of the year since the rapper staged a reunion featuring his castmates from Degrassi: The Next Generation.
Shared Thursday (June 14), the rapper hopped back into the role as Jimmy with his right-hand Spinner (Shane Kippel). After the two pull up in a Porsche to the reunion (at Degrassi Community School of course), they reunite with the original The Next Generation cast along with some fan favorites from the classes of 2008-09.
Directed by Karena Evans, the video is everything fans of the series wanted to see. There happened to be a few characters missing like J.T. Yorke (Ryan Cooley), who reportedly thought the reunion was a scam. Daniel Clark, who played Sean, shared on social media that he wasn’t invited to the reunion.
But there were plenty of others present like Mia (Nina Dobrev), Marco (Adamo Ruggiero), Paige (Lauren Collins), Ellie (Stacey Farber), Craig (Jake Epstein), Hazel (Andrea Lewis), Connor (A.J. Saudin), Principal Archie Simpson (Stefan Brogren) and many others.
Throughout the video, you get a sense of each character’s personalities and dynamics like Emma and Manny, Danny and Marc and the underrated lovebirds, Jimmy and Hazel.
If you never heard of the series or want a gentle reminder of who’s who, take a look at the list below.
Shane Kippel (Gavin ‘Spinner’ Mason)
Kippel played Jimmy’s lovable and goofy best friend Spinner. While a bully on the outside, Spinner was compassionate and always looked out for others, including Jake (Craig Epstein) and Marco (Adamo Ruggiero). He also went through his fair share of traumas like his testicular cancer diagnosis. In the end, he goes off to marry Emma, which no one saw coming.
“To bring this whole thing full circle back to where it all began for all of us made it an on-screen reunion for the fans but also a real one for all of us involved,” he said about the video.”All of the energy, laughter, and fun captured in the video was as naturally occurring and genuine as can be. No acting involved. Well, except me trying to look as cool as the big man. I can’t thank you enough @champagnepapi for this. None of us can. What a time. We’ll never forget it.”
Miriam McDonald (Emma Nelson)
McDonald’s character Emma in many ways was the glue of the series. In the premiere episode, viewers learned about the dangers of online dating when the then 13-year-old was almost kidnapped by a man she met online. Her storyline would later go into topics like anorexia, blended families and her friendship with Manny Santos. And yea, she married Spinner and not Sean.
“First time I took a photo on these steps and walked these hallways was 17 years ago,” she said on Instagram. “I had no idea what this “Degrassi” journey would be as a little 8th grader with no experience in tv at all, or how long and life-changing of a ride was awaiting me. And I wouldn’t have made it through these hallways with any others!”
Cassie Steele (Manny Santos)
Another awesome thing about the reunion – I got to hang with @thatkevinsmith again!!!! Goodfuckintimesman 👻
A post shared by Cassie Steele (@cassandrasteele) on
Perhaps the most iconic character of the Degrassi world was Manny Santos. She was blunt, confident and had a spunky aurora everyone seemed to enjoy. Santos’ storyline was just as varied as she was the epitome of “good girl gone bad.” Between her finding herself and facing in the ins and outs of love, one episode that “went there” was Manny’s decision to abort her pregnancy. Years before abortion would be played out on shows like Scandal, Degrassi was so ahead of it’s time that The N didn’t air the episode to their US audience.
Sarah Barrable-Tishauer (Liberty Van Zandt)
Liberty is a fire DJ now. That’s all you really need to know.
Dalmar Abuzeid (Danny Van Zandt)
Abuzeid played Barrable-Tishauer’s little brother on the series. He didn’t have the smarts like Liberty, but he made up for it in laughs.
Jake Goldsbie (Toby Isaacs)
Toby was the geek we all loved and still love to this day. His character tackled body issues in the earlier seasons when he decided to take supplements to make weight for the school’s wrestling team.
“When I was younger and dumber I used to say things like “if I’m 30 and still The Degrassi Guy I’m going to kill myself,'” he said via Instagram. “Well, I turn 30 in 8 weeks and it turns out being The Degrassi Guy is, uh, pretty cool.”
Lauren Collins (Paige Michalchuk)
The original mean girl. Paige ruled Degrassi during her years at the school. She also wore her heart on her sleeve which led her character to focus on topics like anxiety, rape and sexual identity.
Andrea Lewis (Hazel Aden)
Hazel Aden was the perfect match for Jimmy and her bestie Paige. As she continued to be a rock for her friend, she was also a great girlfriend to Jimmy. Her character would go on to tackle islamophobia, a topic rarely talked on about in a teen drama.
Adamo Ruggiero (Marco Del Rossi)
Another iconic character was Marco, whose coming out story seemed to be the most realistic portrayal ever on television.
Marc Donato (Derek Haig)
Derek was Danny’s right hand during his time on the show. He also appeared to give away the big reunion on his IG last week.
“I can’t wait for this weekend, to see all my old friends and catch up and just press the play button like it was just yesterday,” he said.”What a good group of people I had the pleasure of working with and grow my up with when I was on Degrassi. It was a huge part of my life and I’m so thankful for my blessings and the beautiful people in my life.”
Stacey Farber (Ellie Nash)
Ellie was one of the first characters to march to the beat of her own drum. Through art and her painful transgressions (her mother’s drinking problem would later become her own), she faced depression and came out on top. She would also go on to win the heart of Jimmy after his breakup with Hazel.
Christina Schmidt (Terri McGreggor)
Terri’s time on the series was short but pretty impactful. She showcased the importance of body image as well as domestic violence.
“One of the rare ones who still call me Chrissy,” she said of her former co-star Drake. “Thankful and grateful for all that you are @champagnepapi and bringing everyone together this past weekend to celebrate life and so many memories in the absolute best way possible. So dope to be apart of your video.”
Melissa McIntyre (Ashley Kerwin)
Ashley was the former “it” of Degrassi. She also dabbled in music, which would later form her love story with Craig. But in the end, she was Jimmy’s first love.
Jake Epstein (Craig Manning)
Craig. Was. That. Dude.
His love stories varied (Ellie, Ashley, Manny), but his battle with bipolar disorder connected him the most to fans.
Nina Dobrev (Mia Jones)
Dobrev played up her character Mia while sharing the news of the video. “Remember when Mia had a kid? Mama got a babysitter tonight,” she captioned her photo.
Stefan Brogren (Archie ‘Snake’ Simpson)
The arc of the Degrassi clan is Mr. Simpson, the once student turned principal. He was also the stepfather to Emma’s blended family and always kept the kids in line.
Linlyn Lue (Ms. Laura Kwan)
Ms. Kwan was also a beloved administrative figure, even when the students weren’t the smoothest to deal with.
A.J. Saudin (Connor Deslauriers)
The glow up is real. Saudin portrayed Connor, a gifted student with Asperger’s syndrome. His character was beyond inspiring, but fans are thrilled to see how much the now-singer has matured.
Ephraim Ellis (Rick Murray)
While Rick was pretty much hated at Degrassi for abusing Terri (and putting Jimmy in a wheelchair), he arose from the dead just in time for the reunion.
Jason Mewes and Kevin Smith (Jay and Silent Bob)
The comedic duo took part in the Degrassi Goes Hollywood film, where they put on their hilarious style of laughs.
Paula Brancati (Jane Vaughn)
While Jane wasn’t the class of ’07, she dealt with the OG (she dated Spinner) and the new class as the only woman on the school’s football team. Jane also showcased her vocals while dealing with her battle with alcoholism.