As she comes into view, I’m surprised to see just how incredible Lauren Collins looks in person. For a girl that’s been through a lot, and I mean some serious Degrassi-esque high school drama (rape, drugs, student/teacher affairs and a school shooting – you know, the usual high school experience) she’s still happy, greeting fans and well wishers with a smile and a handshake. And why shouldn’t she? Lauren recently graduated from high school (both in real life, and in TV) and can currently be seen on both the big and small screens. I had the lucky opportunity to talk to Lauren after the Toronto premiere of her latest feature film TAKE THE LEAD starring a little known Spanish Hearthrob Antonio Banderas.
theTVaddict Sitting here with you it’s obvious how recognizable you have become (not suprisingly, Degrassi is Canada’s biggest TV show) How has being cast in Degrassi changed your life and has it prepared you for different challenging roles in the future?
Lauren Collins I don’t think anyone involved in the new generation of Degrassi could have been prepared for its success. Sometimes I say it is hard to remember my life before Degrassi since it has become such a huge part of me. I can’t really go out anywhere without being recognized for my work on the show and that’s pretty significant for a Canadian actor on a Canadian TV series. So I think it’s safe to say my life has completely changed since I started the show, but in a very positive way. It has put me in a great place to continue finding work based on the publicity generated by the show, but also Degrassi has trained me to become a well-rounded, efficient actor. It’s not easy for teen girls to find roles that are compelling and complex like Paige. I’ve been so fortunate to tackle issues such as rape and coming to terms with exploring sexual orientation.
theTVaddict Fans of the show recently saw you graduate from High School? Is there any chance we’ll see you back on the show next year. Would you consider a guest appearance?
Lauren Collins I’m not really at liberty to say in what capacity, if any, the graduating kids will be back in season 6. BUT, I think it’s safe to say that our fans have been VERY supportive in letting the right people know they don’t want to forget about Paige, Marco and the rest of the gang.
theTVaddict If you’re not back next year, what are you going to miss most about Degrassi? And what was your favourite episode?
Lauren Collins Whenever a season wraps there is always a sense of sadness because we are never sure if we’ll be back again due to the way the Canadian television world works. However, at the end of season 5, more than ever there was a sense of finality due to the vibe of the episode itself. A bunch of us were graduating and wearing our caps and gowns. Tears were shed and lots of memories were shared.
It’s practically impossible to pick a favourite episode because I can’t even remember them all but the one I am by far the most proud of is Ghost In The Machine.
theTVaddict How much of yourself do you get to put into Paige? Are there things that you’ve believed strongly on, and talked about with the writers to change something that you didn’t think Paige would do?
Lauren Collins When you play a character for 5 years it’s inevitable that you as a person will pick up some of her traits and the other way around. It’s much like hanging out with a best friend or significant other, you start to talk the same, pick up each other’s mannerisms. I (Lauren) have definitely been known to occasionally throw a French word or two into my vernacular MUCH like Paige does on a regular basis.
theTVaddict How did you feel about your storyline with Alex? Is it something you were nervous about, kissing a girl on screen?
Lauren Collins The biggest challenge for me with the Paige/Alex storyline was making sure it was an organic decision for Paige and not completely out of character. Working together with the writers and director I think we accomplished just that. The whole “big kiss” was kind of an after thought. We shot it at the veeeery end of a veeeeery long day and there was just a feeling of “oh right, we have to make out now, whatevs!!”
theTVaddict Being a TV star in the year 2006 means you’ve got thousands of web sites dedicated to you (if you google Lauren Collins, over 6 millions listings come up!). Is it strange being a TV star? Do you ever go online and visit the fansites and read about what everyone thinks of an episode or a character?
Lauren Collins I actually find myself on fan sites a lot. I’m not totally sure why I love to look, partially to hear feedback but I think also because I can’t really get over the fact that there are TONS of people all over the world debating which way they liked my hair, or why I chose to present a character the way I did. It’s completely surreal, the whole idea of being a “TV Star” or “role model”.
theTVaddict Sitting through TAKE THE LEAD I had the surreal opportunity to watch you on screen, while sitting next to you in the theatre. How great was it shooting a big time Hollywood movie with Antonio Banderas?
Lauren Collins “Take The Lead” was an incredible experience for me. All of a sudden I was having a TON of new things thrown at me and I was definitely up for the challenge. It was my first feature film and the entire process of shooting a feature is so different from a tv show and it is hard to say which is harder than the other. The days are definitely longer on a movie but you aren’t shooting as much material in one day. It can be hard to “keep things fresh” on camera. Then there was the whole dancing/rehearsal period of the movie which at times was pretty grueling. I met some fascinating people in the process and made friendships that will last a long time. I was also thrilled with the final product.
theTVaddict Aside from your everyday life of shooting TV and Movies, what are you favourite movies, tv shows, and music?
Lauren Collins I’m a bit of a popculture/music/movie/tv junkie so it’s kind of hard to pick favourites but I’ll do my best. Right now I barely watch anything actually airing on tv, just Grey’s Anatomy and American Idol. I’m really all about series DVD’s, the greatest invention in tv history. Love Nip/tuck, My So-Called Life, and Sex and The City.
I’m really not sure if it’s possible for me to pick one favourite movie. The best movie I’ve seen in the theatres recently was Thank You For Smoking, though.
My music tastes are all over the map but so far, my summer concert line up is as follows. The Strokes, The Stills, Imogen Heap, Broken Social Scene/Feist, Panic at the Disco, Counting Crows and Ben Harper, and that list is not at all complete.