By Dina Ginzburg
DEGRASSI is the only excuse for being excited for going back to school in mid-July! The show has been running for 11 whole seasons, and next week will be the season 12 premiere! To ease everyone back into the routine of drama, laughs and romance, we talked to Aislinn Paul, who plays Clare Edwards. Here’s what she had to say:
What got you interested in acting?
Both my parents are actors and they both have been for all their lives and so when I was a kid, I would always go with them to auditions because you can’t really get a babysitter for half an hour or however long you’re going to be in the room. I would just go in the room with them and I would sit quietly and I would watch them audition, so it just sort of slowly came to be that I was just in the business. It’s always seemed like a normal thing for me. Growing up, I was just always an actor. It was a cool way to grow up! I know it has affected the person I am today.
The teaser trailer for the 12th season of DEGRASSI looks pretty dramatic. As an actress, do you like doing intense scenes or do you prefer lighter ones?
Both intense and light scenes can be good. Often what’s best is if you have a balance of the two during one day, because if you have a bunch of really intense scenes by the end of the day you’re just so tired. But they can also be really fulfilling as an actor, to do all that intense work. And then the comedy can be fun, too, so it’s really nice to have a balance.
This summer, DEGRASSI has four new episodes a week. Does shooting the show get tiring? What do you do to relax?
It can get tiring because of the number of episodes that we’re shooting now. We have to go so quickly and we move so fast on set and so to relax I often will go home and I’ll watch other TV shows that I like or I’ll read books, listen to music, just try to be Zen when I’m not on set.
Do you find it hard to have a really limited amount of time with the script before having to move on?
It is very different. Back in season eight, we still only shot the 20 or so episodes, and going from being used to working on set with scripts like that and then moving on to shooting twice as many episodes…. It was really different to move on and do that much work in so little time and so it’s been an adjustment to work with the scripts for that little time, but it’s also a nice challenge. I’ve had a lot of fun.
In all the seasons that you’ve been on DEGRASSI, what was your favourite scene to shoot?
My favourite scene ever? Well, you know what was actually fun was in season 10 was when Adam throws the surprise party for Fiona and she doesn’t show up. Even though that’s kind of a sad moment for him, I actually had so much fun that day shooting on that set, because it was so beautiful, the weather was so nice. Munro and I just got to lie in a hammock for the whole scene. It was really fun!
Your character seems to undergo big changes with every season. Can we expect to see anything new with Clare this season?
There’s definitely a lot of change with Clare this season. At first she’s sort of working her way back to the person that she wants to be and the place that she wants to be and she’s getting a lot of great opportunities this year and some of them might challenge her in ways that she didn’t really expect and that she might not be ready for.
Can you tell us anything about Clare and Eli getting back together?
I can tell you that Clare and Eli are definitely back in each other's lives. They were broken up for season 11, but they still didn’t stop interacting, so of course there’s still a bit of an attraction there and it’s definitely dealt with in the first episode, so you won’t have to wait in suspense for long.
If you were in Clare’s shoes, would you get back together with Eli?
If I were in Clare’s shoes, I think I might get back together with Eli, just because I’m a crazy romantic. But Clare is a little bit more logical, so we’ll see what she does.
Did working with Munro Chambers on MURDER IN THE HAMPTONS when you were younger help you work with him on DEGRASSI?
I think working with him back when I was 10 definitely did help. We had a pre-existing relationship and we were able to come up with some inside jokes because we’d known each other back then and I think it was a good jumping-off point for us especially because we jumped into such an intense relationship so quickly. To have a pre-existing knowledge of each other was really nice.
Four new Degrassi students are being introduced this season. What was it like working with the new actors?
Working with all the new actors has been so fun! I can tell you that Clare’s had a little interaction with all of them (Dylan, Demetrius, Craig and Sarah) and it’s been really nice to see the energy that they’re bringing to the show and also just what their characters are offering as well. It’s been very dramatic and tension-filled, but they’re all bringing it! It’s really great!
If you could play any other character on the show, who would it be?
Well, I think that I would want to play Maya. She just has been introduced as a niner last year, but this year she’s got some really cool story lines and a lot of fun stuff and I think I would really love to switch places with her. I think she’s got a really great character.
If you could have any other job besides being an actress, what would it be?
I don’t know. Maybe an interior designer or something that’s still artistic, but has some sort of physical construction in it as well, because I really like building things, I also really like decorating things, so I think it’s a good combination for me.
What’s it like balancing schoolwork with shooting a TV show?
Balancing school with DEGRASSI is definitely hard. It’s something that I’ve been struggling with for my whole high school career so far, but it’s definitely been worth it. Also, since I’ve been a child I’ve been a working actor trying to balance school at the same time, so I’m familiar with the good old grind! What’s most difficult is really just keeping up with the teachers. In elementary school, it’s easier because you have one teacher for all your classes, but then in high school you have so many teachers that you have to get in touch with. That can be hard, but I think I’ve finally mastered it… mostly!
Do you have any other projects planned outside of DEGRASSI?
Right now I don’t have any other projects on the way, but I am going traveling this summer, trying to be a normal teenager for a little bit and then I’ll come back in the fall to finish season 12, so I’m pretty busy!
Don’t forget to catch the season premiere of DEGRASSI on July 16th at 10 p.m. on MuchMusic!