Kids Inc.: Degrassi’s Raymond Ablack and Skins’ Camille Cresencia-Mills discuss post-millennial TV teenagedom
The place: Sneaky Dee’s. The people: Degrassi’s Raymond Ablack and Skins’ Camille Cresencia-Mills. The subject: post-millennial TV teenagedom
Metaphorical miles away from the tony Upper East Side of Gossip Girl and the palatial hills of 90210, two TV shows are giving viewers a realistic, OMFG-free rendering of adolescent angst. Degrassi (the next generation) has been a teen staple since 2001 and was instrumental in launching the stateside careers of Vampire Diaries hottie Nina Dobrev and rap superstar Drake. Skins, the raunchy BBC series about a group of hard-partying, troubled friends in Bristol, England, quickly scored cult status after its 2007 debut. It was only a matter of time before it headed this way: the North American remake premieres this month. Both shows have won critical and popular acclaim by focusing on what’s really up with high schoolers today. And both shows are known for using young writers, and for casting untested, age-appropriate actors (instead of hard-to-believe 25-year-olds). Ryerson undergrad Raymond Ablack has been portraying Degrassi’s steadfast student body president, Sav, for four seasons. Camille Cresencia-Mills, a senior at the Etobicoke School for the Arts, recently snagged the part of the trumpet-playing prodigy Daisy—Skins’ moral conscience—after attending an open casting call. We got the onscreen goodie-goodies together for a plate of Sneaky Dee’s legendary nachos and listened in.
RA: Most teens don’t live in lavish beach condos. Our viewers relate to kids from middle-class Canada or America. My character’s a regular kid. He deals with strict parents, and he’s struggling to keep his girlfriend. Everyday problems.
CCM: And for teens, those everyday problems really are huge. In high school, breaking up with your boyfriend can feel like the end of the world.
Drugs like MDMA are big right now. It’s funny, because I showed my parents an episode of Skins in which the kids are doing some. They didn’t know what it was.
RA: Statistics say that the number of sexually active kids under the age of 18 is going down. I would guess that drug use is going up. At least it feels that way.
Everybody loves my character, Sav. He’s kind of like Ferris Bueller. Next season is probably my last. It would be cool to see him get killed off. Not so cool for the character, but it would be fun for me.
CCM: Yeah. Getting killed off is definitely the ultimate way to go. I’m hoping that Daisy goes over to the dark side a little bit. She’s so responsible.
Premiering Jan. 17
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