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Class act
Meet Jamie Johnston, soon to make you swoon on Degrassi

Acting resume ensures new kid won't be getting picked on


Jamie Johnston wasn't actually supposed to play a major role on Degrassi: The Next Generation.

But when the show's executives saw his audition they decided Johnston was too good for a small bit part.

All the soft-spoken 16-year-old actor will say about his new character, who debuts this fall, is that "he's going to shake things up."

It might be a line that he's rehearsed for dramatic effect, but even then it's hard to believe the laidback Toronto teenager with a California surf-boy look could play a "shake things up" kind of guy.

But following the suspenseful Season 4, which featured a school shooting and lots of unanswered questions (the shooting episode had the largest audience ever for the show with 930,000 viewers), Johnston has been brought in to make things even more exciting for Season 5 of Degrassi: The Next Generation on CTV.

Sitting in his family home in the Beaches neighbourhood of Toronto's east end, it's only when his mother Lynda pops in a movie featuring her son that Johnston's acting talent becomes evident.

He plays a blind boy in the Canadian-made film More Than Meets the Eye: The Joan Brock Story. Even though he was only 11 when the movie was shot, his ability to portray an angry young blind student is the stuff of prodigies.

"I don't find it too challenging. It's just a lot of fun and I get to do it as a job, so I'm pretty lucky."

He was able to try out for Degrassi after the show Zoe Busiek: Wild Card, in which Johnston played a lead role, was cancelled earlier in the year.

"I had just gotten back from Europe on a school trip and I had a bunch of scripts from Degrassi and other shows.

"I have always liked Degrassi. I used to watch the old ones. I went to the audition and I got the part. We already filmed the first four episodes."

He can thank his older brother Chris, not only for getting him interested in Degrassi, on which Chris used to appear as an extra, but also for getting his career started.

Before Jamie began acting at age 8 in community theatre and then commercials, he used to tag along with his mom to his brother's modelling jobs.

Clients began asking about Jamie and when his child-modelling career took off, that eventually led to acting.

He's already looking forward to the end of his brief holiday, when Degrassi begins taping again later this week.

"It's great to play a lead role. I want to become a professional actor permanently, see where it takes me.

"I'd like to do a lead role in a feature film. But Degrassi will be big."
(Source: Toronto Star)

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