Degrassi High: Where are they now?
A few words with Dayo Ade
by Stacey Philipp
Centennial College’s Centre for Creative Communications is not just a place of education, but the setting of the 1980’s television show Degrassi High. While the show took on such issues as teen dating, suicide, depression, bullying, drugs, eating disorders, abortion, and more, a fan base of loyal viewers continues to grow, making this show one of the most popular televised teen dramas filmed in Canada. Degrassi High was filmed just north of Danforth Avenue at Centennial College in Toronto from 1989–1991.
Watching reruns of the beloved characters like Joey (Pat Mastronianni), Snake (Stefan Brogren), and Wheels (the late Neil Hope) aim for fame with storylines including The Zit Remedy song, Spike (Amanda Stepto) raise her baby, BLT (Dayo Ade) and Michelle (Maureen Mckay) battle through love and then break up, and the rest of the gang deal with teenage life, we can’t help but wonder “where are they now?”
On the Danforth got the opportunity to catch up with Dayo Ade (BLT) and here’s what he had to say.
On the Danforth: How did you get into acting?
Dayo Ade: My mother said I had been talking about being on television since I could talk. So she enrolled me into a commercial/acting course at Yonge and Bloor when I was nine. The rest is history.
OTD: How did you get the role of BLT?
DA: It was my second TV audition since I started. I got the part after a few weeks of auditioning for the role.
OTD: What is your favourite Degrassi memory?
DA: So many to choose from. I would have to say it was off screen when Amanda (Stepto), Cathy (Keenan, who played Liz), and myself used to hang out in the cafeteria and debate current events. It used to get intense. I miss our conversations.
OTD: How do you feel your life has changed after playing BLT?
DA: Playing BLT was the role that confirmed and let me know what I was meant to do. It set me on the path to my love and passion: ACTING!
OTD: Where are you living now and what are you working on?
DA: I am living in Hollywood/Los Angeles, California. I am currently working on two projects. The L.A. Complex [which just aired the mid-season finale] playing the role of Dynasty, and in Cracked [not yet released], I am playing the role of Leo Beckett. What I’ve done since leaving Toronto: Lost, NCIS LA, Castle, Chase, Alias, ER, and The Shield, to mention a few.
OTD: Do you keep in touch with the old cast?
DA: I actually do keep in touch with a few of my old cast members. Amanda (Stepto), Cathy (Keenan), Stefan (Brogren) and now a lot of us are back in touch since the news of Neil’s (Hope) passing away. R.I.P Neil; we miss you.
OTD: Is there anything that you want to tell your Toronto fan base?
DA: To my fellow Torontonians: I miss you all and am glad to be back working in Canada.
With the success of the show came the spin-off, Degrassi: The Next Generation. Taking off in 2001, 10 years after the original, fans saw some familiar faces. Mastronianni, Brogren, and Stacie Mistysyn (who played Caitlin Ryan) all appeared to help the new generation deal with the similar after-school issues. The show gained loyal fans and has aired 12 seasons. You can watch the show from the very beginning; buy the DVDs from Amazon today!