After 193 episodes spent playing fan favorite Manny Santos on the hit Canadian series DEGRASSI, actress Cassie Steele knows a thing or two about making it. Unfortunately, she didn’t bother to pass along any of that career advice to her latest role that sees Steele step into the shoes of wide-eyed newcomer Abby Vargas on the sexy and scandalous new series THE L.A. COMPLEX. So just what’s it like playing a naive Hollywood neophyte struggling to make her mark in the beloved business we affectionally refer to as show? Well, we recently had the pleasure of catching up with the talented actress to find out just that. See for yourself, after the jump.
At one point did THE LA COMPLEX change from a DEGRASSI spin-off to an entirely different show?
Cassie Steele: THE LA COMPLEX was originally a spin-off and I feel like even a few months before we were ready to film it a discussion was still being had as to whether my character would be Abby or Manny [from DEGRASSI]. It was a toss up whether the Network wanted it this way and what the audience would accept, but they ended up going with Abby and I think it was a great choice because we’re a very different show from DEGRASSI. Intense, real, adult.
What can you tell us about Abby?
She’s just a young girl who really really wants to make it as an actress. She’s got a big heart, she’s striving to achieve everything, trying really hard and doesn’t let anything knock her down. She’s also very emotional, very sporadic, has all these little idiosyncrasies and is a great girl. I want to be her friend!
Having spent some time in Los Angeles yourself, was Abby an easy character to relate to her?
I guess she’s pretty similar in a way but I feel like I went down to Los Angeles a lot younger than 21. I went down at 17, 18 where I was living by myself and — like Abby — it was really hard for me. When you go from working on a show constantly to living by yourself, trying to get another job, it’s a lot of pressure and I ended up just making my second album there because I didn’t want to audition. It was too much pressure. But I think Abby definitely has some qualities that I have and I can definitely relate. The great thing about Abby is that she doesn’t get in those dark places that we all can get to, those ruts that make people dark. Abby doesn’t let her setbacks get her down, she stays positive which I really admire.
One imagines that in order to “make it,” Abby will be forced to make some very interesting decisions along the way. That being said, what kind of trouble can we expect your character to get into?
She’s going to get into a lot of trouble. It’s not necessarily in the industry trouble, it’s just what she has to do to stay down there. She doesn’t have any money, she got kicked out of her apartment, she ends up stripping at one point and trying to and failing. It’s just what she needs to do and that’s what she really struggles with in these episodes, she doesn’t have a dime to her name, she’s forced to stay with her friend Nick who wishes they were more than friends. It just comes down to what people will do to stay in the city and succeed.
Much like Abby does living in THE LA COMPLEX, you’ve also watched as fellow actors like Nina Dobrev [THE VAMPIRE DIARIES] and Shenae Grimes [90210 go on to have enormous success. What’s that like as an actress?
I think it’s amazing. I mean, you kind of already know where they’re going. It’s not big surprise that they’re there, it’s what they set out to do. I feel like they’re the people who focused the most and just really went out to get everything and we all saw it. Nina [Dobrev] is just the hardest worker I’ve ever known, Shenae [Grimes] is really strong headed and will go after what she wants, while Aubrey [Drake] has been doing music since I met him and that was ten, eleven years ago so it’s been awesome and no surprise.
New episodes of THE L.A. COMPLEX air Tuesdays at 9PM on MuchMusic in Canada