She’s only just graduated on the show, but Lauren Collins is already arguably the most successful actor to have played a major character on Degrassi yet.
Lauren Collins will be returning to the Degrassi set as Paige, the soon-to-be businesswoman as she tackles her first year at the fictional Banting University. In real life, though, Collins has racked up acting credentials that would put her ambitious alter ego to shame, including movies like John Woo’s Once a Thief and TV shows like Mutant X.
“It’s so funny. I can sit around and do nothing one week and then all of the sudden I have three auditions,” Collins says during a cellphone interview.
She’s currently trekking across Israel on a 10-day kibbutz and chatting about her career while surrounded by a busload of other young adults.
“Before I left, I was going to wardrobe fittings, auditions, packing. It’s so funny because everything is so last minute,” she says.
When she returns from the tour a trip called Birthright that offers free treks to the country for Jews in their late teens and early twenties filming will begin almost immediately for a movie called Charlie Bartlett (which also stars other Degrassi regulars, including Jake Epstein).
The film will be another notch on the teen drama bedpost for Collins, whose last major movie performance was in Take the Lead with Antonio Banderas. That credit alone officially elevates her as the leading actor in the entire Degrassi series.
In the film, she played Caitlin, an unpleasant upper-crust teen trying to fit in with her downtown counterparts.
She’s also appeared as a character in Booky Makes Her Mark, a film about a young girl growing up in Depression-era Canada, which closed this year’s Sprockets film festival.
As the sometimes wicked but always popular leader of the Spirit Squad on Degrassi, Paige has garnered a loyal legion of fans across Canada and the United States.
Sparkly fansites and fanfiction has been created by the thousands in her honour. On the show, Paige, who just graduated from Degrassi Community School at the season’s end, has dealt with everything from rape to lesbianism to dating Spinner.
But before Degrassi, Collins had a long list of TV appearances and small parts dating from 1998, which makes her one of the most experienced actors on the set. “It’s kind of fun. Sometimes I almost feel like a teacher. Like I’m helping (the other actors),” she says.
She says she’s also working on a TV series called Life with Derek.
This interview is interrupting her 10-day attempt to eke a normal life out of her schedule. “It’s hard sometimes and I do have to make sacrifices,” she says. “But I love it so I don’t mind.”
While Collins says she plans to stay in acting, she has enrolled for a light general arts course load at the University of Toronto and is expected to start in the fall.
“I wasn’t sure what I wanted to do,” she says.
In the meantime, she’s travelling with her best friend and says she’s having a blast, enjoying a few days away from the set.
“I’m having the most amazing time of my life. This is a beautiful country.”