We’re already in Degrassi withdrawal after last week’s lackluster season finale. Consider it great timing, then, that we recently got to speak with Enuka Okuma, who stars on ABC’s cop drama Rookie Blue, about her acting roots on another Canadian teen drama, Fifteen. Though the name may mean nothing to Americans, one of its other big stars will ring a bell: Ryan Reynolds, with whom Enuka shared the screen for the first season.
Enuka left Fifteen (called Hillside in Canada) after the first season because the show was relocating to Florida and she decided to stay in Vancouver. But she says that even though she doesn’t see Ryan that often, they’re bonded by the time they spent on the soap:
It’s been phenomenal to watch his career. He’s still the same down-to-earth, hilarious good actor and good guy. We run into each other every now and then — I literally, physically run into him in New York every now and then. [Fifteen co-star] Chris William Martin is good friends with Ryan, as well. Chris and I hang out al the time, but we never see Ryan because he’s just never around.
After Fifteen, Enuka also appeared on yet another Canadian soap, called Madison. It was there that she heard about a little program called Degrassi:
My heart is always with the teen shows because I started out on three different shows. [Madison] shot on [Canada's] west coast, but Degrassi was sort of the “East Coast” version of the same kind of show. So in our country people remember both, but Degrassi went on to be huge in the States, so people remember that one a bit more. …That being said, my friends from Madison are still super-close friends of mine, and a lot of them are still acting. Some are producing, directing, writing, but most everyone’s still in the game, which is kind of rare. We met a lot of the Degrassi actors as well; they’re friends of mine, too. A lot of them are still acting. …Back then, Degrassi was really gritty and the stories were really laughable compared to what they’re doing now. I’m really impressed — the game just keeps changing, because kids are getting more and more savvy. If you want to be realistic in portraying them, you have to respect that things are changing.
You can’t feed kids bull. They know, so if you’re gonna represent them, represent them the way they actually are. I feel like shows like Degrassi and Skins, they do it. It’s hard for people to watch, and a lot of parents are in denial, but it’s the truth.