This all-new #TMITuesday I got to chat with a fellow Canadian, a fellow podcaster, a fellow survivor of working for VV, and a fellow Degrassi superfan. Jocelyn C is taking the podcast world by storm with her new podcast and I’m so excited to see it play out for her! I’m giving the people what they want this week so lets get into itttttt!
- What is your earliest Degrassi memory?
Funny enough, the first time I watched an episode of Degrassi – I didn’t know I was watching an episode of Degrassi. It was way back in Grade 7 Health Class. We were doing a lesson on puberty and development.
Our teacher wheeled in one of those big bulky TVs. We were excited to watch a movie in class until he said, “This is an educational video from the 80s. It’s all about your growing bodies& why they’re changing.” There was a communal groan in the class.
I remember it very clearly. It was a story about this young girl and her first bra. Her sudden ‘development’ made waves around the school. But she had one problem. Her best friend signed her up for a swimming competition against the boys. A tight, blue bathing suit was about to sell her out as a flat-chested, pre-pubescent girl, not the mature sex bomb she had hoped to be.
The episode stood out to me for one specific reason. A young man wearing a fedora and a Hawaiian T-Shirt stood up and screamed, “Hey, Melanie! You’re so flat the walls are jealous.” The quote rattled around my Junior High School for weeks! It was yelled out during assemblies, silent moments in class and every single time we got changed in the gym’s locker room. It wasn’t until many years later that I realized that the young man was named Joey Jeremiah, and I had watched my first episode of Degrassi Junior High.
Nikki’s note: I first saw the show on a big rolled-in TV too! Grade 3!
- Since today is #TMITuesday, can you tell the readers something that they may not already know about you?
What’s a better #TMI than hearing about the time I embarrassed myself in front of someone from Degrassi? I was invited to this live podcast event, where I was interviewed alongside writers, actors and creatives from the show. I was invited to represent the Degrassi super fans. It was a dream come true, but damn, was I nervous.
The event was in this old movie-theatre venue, and we were seated in order of appearance. I sat right next to Melinda Shankar, who played Alli Bhandari on Degrassi. I was definitely star-struck, but I kept my cool. I went up, did my interview and was beaming with pride at how well I did in front of a live audience.
Until I went to go sit down next to Melinda. Those movie theatre seats came with cup holders, and I had just knocked an entire glass of water all over her. She was drenched. Even worse, she was just about to go up on stage to do her interview. A montage of Alli’s biggest moments was playing on screen while I stood there in horror and whispered out a big, big apology. She was so nice and acted like it was no big deal. “It’s just water,” she said. But I was so embarrassed.
A few years later, I saw that she was having a movie premiere in Toronto. I commented on her post saying, “wish I could be there!” and she replied, “Let me know if you’re coming; I’ll have to wear a rain jacket this time.” LOL!
- You recently started your own podcast; what are you most excited to cover on it? What are you most worried about discussing?
I’m really hopeful for a Degrassi reboot. There was one announced last January, but then, un-announced a few months later. I’m hoping they’ve kept up some momentum by bringing Degrassi back to life. I can’t imagine what it’s like for this new generation to grow up without Degrassi on the air, especially in today’s world where human rights are such a widely debated topic. It’s so important to see honest and real stories told on screen without politics getting in the way.
One of the things that makes Degrassi so successful is the fact that teen issues don’t change, but the world in which they happen is constantly evolving. I want to see how Degrassi handles those same teen issues in a post-COVID world. I think teenagers need Degrassi.
There’s nothing I’m worried about discussing – I could talk about Degrassi all day, every day and I’m happy to do it!
- The Degrassi theme song is legendary; what would you say is your theme song and why? Currently, my theme song is ‘Therapy’ by Lauren Sanderson.
I love it! My theme song is definitely ‘Vienna’ by Billy Joel. This song always helps me slow down and remember to take care of myself first.
I’m very open about the fact that my biggest roadblock in life was my old boss at Value Village. I worked at a thrift store, and yet, I was expected to give up my entire life for that company. I had no time for hobbies, it was impossible to take time off, and they made me feel like if you’re not putting the company first – I was not worth having a job. I was constantly scared I was going to be fired.
When COVID hit, and we were all stuck at home. I felt so lost and empty. I had no identity outside of my job and I had no idea how to just spend time with myself. That was the first time I heard Vienna by Billy Joel. The lyrics:
“Slow down, you crazy child. Take the phone off the hook and disappear for a while. It’s alright; you can afford to lose a day or two.”
Made me realize that I need to stop living my life for other people. The day after we re-opened from COVID — I put my notice in, I went to therapy, and I set a new personal core value: “I will not let a paycheck impact my self-worth ever again.” I had to give up the luxury of a well-paying job with benefits, but hey, I’m living my dreams, and I’m happier than ever.
- Why should Degrassi fans subscribe to your Patreon and podcast?
The Degrassi Kid Podcast is all about celebrating the history and impact of the show. For many of us – Degrassi is the first time that we saw ourselves on screen. Whether it be stories of mental illness, coming out, or losing a loved one – Degrassi shows you that “you are not alone.”
With my podcast, I hope to keep fans connected to their favourite show and maintain a sense of community online. I hope to break down the behind-the-scenes stories that show you why Degrassi worked so hard to put us on TV. And I hope to show the creators of Degrassi that the fandom is still alive and well; we’re ready for Degrassi to come back.
I’ve been very lucky that there are fans out there who want to Degrassi alive. Many of them even make monthly donations on my Patreon. All of that support helps me focus my time & attention on the podcast and create weekly Degrassi content for the fans. It’s also a pretty big piece of validation that people like what I’m doing!
- If any, what are the most comparable teen drama shows out there that you enjoy?
I find it unfair to compare Degrassi to other teen dramas because they just don’t share the same purpose and values. Most teen dramas just want to tell stories about teenagers; Degrassi wants to tell stories about you. Degrassi tackles stories of abortion, self-harm, or coming out because they want to show you that “you are not alone.”
I find other teen dramas push the toughest topics onto their minor characters. Your favourite character meets someone with HIV. Your favourite character knows someone who has an abortion. They hardly handle it directly. Because of Degrassi, I got to watch my favourite character go through high school for two years before she came out as a lesbian. That story wouldn’t have made the same impact on me if we just met a lesbian character for a day or two.
- Retrokid did a collab with Degrassi for some really sweet merch; what is your go-to piece from that collection?
I have a soft spot for their “Zit Remedy” band t-shirt. They have Joey, Wheels & Snake on the front and a list of tour dates/locations on the back. It stood out to me because it has my hometown listed on the back: Charlottetown, PEI. It’s very rare you’d ever find a piece of Degrassi merch that references Prince Edward Island on it. I felt very represented and almost like I was a part of the Zit Remedy fan club!
- Besides Degrassi, what else do you enjoy?
I try to Degrass-ify everything I do. Even if I explore different movies & tv shows, I’m usually scrolling through IMDB to see what other projects the Degrassi actors are in. Whatever I’m creating, there’s probably a Degrassi spin on it.
One thing that’s really important to me is being an active & visible member of my community. Prince Edward Island seems like a quaint little space tucked away in the east coast of Canada – but we have our problems just like everywhere else. It’s important to me that I get out to pride events, I show up at rallies, and I offer my support to my community wherever I can!
- What is your favourite episode from Degrassi Junior High, Degrassi High, TNG and Next Class?
Degrassi Junior High – Season 1, Episode 1 “Kiss Me, Steph”
- This episode never fails to bring a smile to my face. Even if you’ve never seen the original episodes, you know the iconic quote, “All The Way with Stephanie Kaye!” It’s such a nice reminder to see where the show came from. Though, is it really a Degrassi re-watch if you don’t start with The Kids of Degrassi Street?
Degrassi High – Season 2, Episode 7 “The All-Nighter”
- I’m sorry to say – this episode made me think drugs were really fun LOL! It follows Kathleen, Melanie, Caitlin, Diana & Maya as they try pot for the first time. It looked like a total blast. If I could put myself inside one Degrassi episode, it would be this one. Even the fight they have at the end is so Degrassi when Melanie says, “Kathleen, I don’t see what the big deal is. You were anorexic, your mom’s an alcoholic and your boyfriend beat you up. Most people would need counselling for even one of those things.” Only at Degrassi!
Degrassi: The Next Generation – Season 3, Episode 8 “Whisper to a Scream”
- This was the episode that made me a Degrassi fan. I casually caught it on TV one day, and it totally pulled me in. This episode focused on Ellie’s confusing emotions and how she used self-harm to cope. It was the first time I saw something so personal and private to me being talked about in such a public and honest way. And there was no judgment. That was really important to me. No one made Ellie feel bad about what she was doing. She wasn’t made fun of or mocked. Everyone who knew about it supported her and tried to get her help. This episode was the first time I thought, “I can really trust Degrassi,” but it definitely wasn’t the last.
“Degrassi” – Season 10, Episode 42 “Chasing Pavements”
- This episode saved my life. At this point, I was a long-time Degrassi fan who was fully immersed in the fandom as “Degrassi Kid.” I was obsessed with the show and couldn’t wait to catch the next episode. The thing that took me from being a casual Degrassi fan to an obsessed superfan – was Fiona Coyne. She was introduced the season before and right away, I saw myself in her.
- She avoided having boyfriends, she had awkward feelings about her best friends and she thought, “why can everyone figure out high school but me?” I felt like I was watching my life play out on screen as it happened. I had no idea they were building up to an episode where Fiona Coyne would come out of the closet. It’s a pivotal scene where she says, “I’m in love with her.. and she’s a girl.” This moment made such a huge impact on me that I came out of the closet that very night. I was now totally unafraid about being myself. Now, I wasn’t watching my life on screen – I was watching what happened next.. and everything was going to be okay! Thanks, Degrassi!
Degrassi: Next Class – Season 3, Episode 8 “#IRegretNothing”
- Degrassi takes us right into the room as Lola Pacini has an abortion. I think it’s one of the most daring episodes of Degrassi they’ve ever done. Whenever I introduce someone to Degrassi: Next Class – this is the episode I show them first. This episode is a perfect example of why teenagers need Degrassi.
- Lola: “Am I the first sixteen-year-old you’ve ever done this to?” Doctor: “You’re not the first today.”
- What’s next for you?
I just celebrated the one-year anniversary of my podcast, and I hit some pretty amazing goals! Thanks to Patreon donations, I’m now able to treat The Degrassi Kid Podcast as a part-time job. I’m taking two days off each week to focus on doing what I love. I’m so grateful to have people who believe in me and love the show.
I don’t know what’s next, but I’m excited to find out! “Whatever it takes!”
Follow Joceyln’s journey:
And The Degrassi Kid Podcast can be found anywhere you stream podcasts!