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An Interview with Degrassi‘s Charlotte Arnold

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Holly J is a bit witty and a bit sassy, but that’s what makes her so lovable. Charlotte Arnold has played Holly J. Sinclair for the past four seasons of Degrassi. Back in season seven, she was mean, snarky, and insecure. Definitely the villain you’d love to hate, she made enemies for fun, like treating her best friend Anya (Samantha Munro) horribly by exposing Anya’s learning disability. Degrassi‘s now entering its tenth season and Holly J has grown more mature, although she still has that spark of edginess that captures viewers’ attention.

For the first time in Degrassi history, there will be a new episode every Monday-Thursday. Episodes air at 9 p.m ET. “When we initially heard we’d be shooting a whopping 48 episodes this year, I think everyone was slightly overwhelmed,” Charlotte said. “However, as soon as we began having readthroughs and getting a chance to see the writing, we were all blown away. The depth and reach of the issues we’re tackling have been totally expanded. Fans will get the chance to follow storylines over the course of the entire year and get much more involved. Not only that, but each and every character is given the chance to shine and their individual stories are constantly colliding with others. This is also our first year where episodes are airing while we’re still in production — I’m just so enjoying seeing the fans’ response to the new format so far and I really can’t wait to see how the season plays out.”

Degrassi‘s tenth season premiered last Monday with the newest Degrassi movie, “The Heat Is On,” which drew 1.2 million viewers, breaking TeenNick’s record as the most watched telecast. The movie followed Holly J to New York, where she had a summer internship. While there, she was forced to put up with her boyfriend Declan’s (Landon Liboiron) twin sister, Fiona (Annie Clark). Fiona’s jealousy of her brother’s relationship with Holly J caused her to spend a lot of the movie trying to break them up, which put a strain on Holly J and Declan’s relationship.

“I think Holly J and Declan have had an amazing relationship so far and there’s obviously a lot of love there, but unfortunately this season they’ll have to deal with the whole long distance relationship thing,” Charlotte said, “Sometimes that can bring out the best in a person, sometimes not so much. They’ve both got their eyes on the prize — Yale — but getting there and staying together is going to be difficult. Holly J is going to get a new guy in her sights, and while I love Holly J and Declan as a couple, this other option may ultimately be the right choice for her.”

On the episodes this past week, Holly J’s been adjusting back to Degrassi. She’s been faced with a tough competition for class president. To get the top spot, she invents a lie, which backfires. She also got a visit from Fiona, who ran away from her life in New York after struggling with an abusive boyfriend. “If I could play another girl on the show, I think I’d want to be Fiona,” Charlotte said. “Her journey this year is at times hilarious, always heartbreaking, and very stylish. And it involves a pig.”

The new season features a lot of new characters like Adam, a transgender teenager played by Jordan Todosey. “I’m so proud to be on a show that was able to bring in a character like Adam and handle that storyline so powerfully and sensitively — it’s not for shock value, just a teenager coming to terms with who he has always known himself to be, and all of the difficulty surrounding his, his family’s, and the school’s acceptance of that,” Charlotte said. “Jordan Todosey is such a wonderful actress and I think she will really move viewers.”

“I used to think Holly J and I were very different people because of her ferocity but now that she’s slightly more toned down, I see our similarities,” Charlotte said. “What makes Holly J laugh is usually the sort of thing that makes me laugh.”

Charlotte is also a student at Ryerson University (she’s entering her junior year). She’s studying journalism (which parallels her character doing the on-air annoucements). “I’ve written a blog for TV Guide Canada and following our cast trip with Free The Children to Ecuador, I was able to write an article for the Toronto Star,” Charlotte said. “Look for me on CNN down the line.”

New episodes with Holly J will air until the season finale on August 26.

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  • emily

    lol degrassi so cool.