Now that Season 1 of Ringer is over, the CW is sliding a new Canadian import into the Tuesday at 9pm time slot. From the creators of the Degrassi franchise, The L.A. Complex zeroes in on six performers as they try to make it big in Hollywood. Cassie Steele plays Abby, a wannabe starlet fairly new in town. The character may be naive and broke, but she’s beyond determined to make that difficult transition from a talented unknown into a successful actress.
TV Goodness recently chatted with Steele, who certainly has what it takes to play this role. If you recall, her Degrassi: The Next Generation character [Manny Santos] had similar aspirations. Degrassi has produced a lot of high-profile talent over the years. Thereâ€™s hip-hop artist Drake, The Vampire Diariesâ€™ Nina Dobrev, 90210â€™s Shenae Grimes, and now Cassie, who talked to us about her role in the much-anticipated series as well as what makes her character tick.
[Warning: Vague Spoilers Mentioned]
TV Goodness: How did you hear about the project?
Cassie Steele: The project, originally, was actually a spin-off of a Degrassi special that I did called Degrassi Goes Hollywood, where my character — and another character played by Lauren Collins [Paige Michalchuk] — go down to L.A. to try and make it. Now this idea sort of spun off and it matured and you know, like so many different things, so many great people hopped on board that…that I was kind of in the know about everything. I kind of knew that there was something in the works. I ended up auditioning a bit more than a few times, you know, with the people that I, you know, that I worked with for so long — which was super nerve-wracking — but I think it’s amazing. I’m a huge fan myself.
TV Goodness: What was the audition process like?
Cassie Steele: I got super anxious before every — and when I get anxious, sometimes I say weird things so…Yeah, so honestly, just like weird. People are like ‘why did you say that? That’s really weird.’ But it was definitely an experience. I’m just sitting or standing in front of, you know, the producers and directors that I’ve known all my life. And I have to play someone else so I definitely think the anxiety sort of worked for me considering Abby is such like…you know she’s like a firecracker.
TV Goodness: What’s different about this show? What’s going to be the thing that hooks people the most when watching The L.A. Complex?
Cassie Steele: It’s really the characters and the different situations. The characters are just so real. They have so many qualities of, I’m sure, one of your friends or yourself. It’s imagining your friends and yourself in these different situations. There are so many up and downs. They’re just regular people put into these crazy, intense situations and that’s why I think people are really going to like it. I really love it already and I’m in it.
TV Goodness: How has it been to work with the cast?
Cassie Steele: It’s been phenomenal. Everybody is so, so talented and I was a fan of quite a few of them before I met them. It’s just been so great. I’ve learned so much. I’m always in the situation where I always end up being the youngest of any cast. I was like 11 when I started Degrassi and here I’m 22. It’s just been a really great learning experience. When you’re put into these situations where people are so talented, and they’ve worked a lot longer than you have, there are these things that you wouldn’t have thought of. Or you need someone to show you or help you. And it was so comfortable working with all of them. They’re all really good people.
TV Goodness: Can you talk about working with Jewel Staite [Raquel]? Because that is huge.
Cassie Steele: When I first met Jewel, I’m a huge fan of like Stargate and Firefly. I’m sort of like a Comic-Con junkie. Working with her, especially in the first couple of episodes, she’s just so natural. She was just so great to work with — on top of the fact that she’s just so amazing. Her and Chelan [Simmons] — Chelan plays Alicia — those two girls are just incredible. They really are.
TV Goodness: So you guys bonded right away?
Cassie Steele: It’s a smaller cast, so we’re always together. They’re not from Toronto. They all stay in sort of a — I wouldn’t say complex — up in Toronto so everybody’s really close.
TV Goodness: Talk a bit more about your character. What are you enjoying about playing her?
Cassie Steele: I guess I’m really enjoying her courage. And her anxiousness because I’m like a really anxious person so I think it’s great that I finally get to use that energy as an actor. Playing a lot of different parts, I’ve usually just only played people that are strong and confident. Actually, on Degrassi, I guess I was really confident because I was always working around my same friends and I had been on the show for so long. I knew it inside and out. And after I stopped, I went to pilot season and I think that really changes you and gives you a complex. Especially being in L.A. I think I’ve developed a bit of a complex from the industry — you need it — but I’m really looking forward to that..to being able to use all that insecurity and all that energy and put it into a character that has so much courage. Much more than I had. And, you know, has so much passion.
TV Goodness: So how does Abby deal with her boyfriend from home?
Cassie Steele: I think anybody who has to work or travel for pilot season — obviously I relate to it a lot because I’m not from L.A. — a lot of people who work down here aren’t really natives. At least that I know. But I’m, again, Canadian. It’s something that I can relate, even right now. I’m down in L.A. and relationships are really hard. Not that I have anyone. But, even my friendships, it’s really hard because you don’t have your friends around you. And you’re constantly working. It’s definitely a switch of sceneries. It’s your life or it’s your social life. And that’s the thing. You have to focus on your life, what you’re going to be.
TV Goodness: Talk about the success of the Degrassi: Next Generation alums. You guys are all over the place. Why do you think it was such a special group?
Cassie Steele: I don’t know why I just know that they’re really, really great people inside and out. You know, it’s not everyday you get to work with talented people. Now that I’m not around them everyday, ’cause I worked with a lot of them for many seasons, Â I can really tell just how special they were. And I wish I could go back and hug them a million times more because you don’t really…I didn’t know anything else when I was younger. I was just inspired by these really great people. They’re just special and they really inspired me.
The L.A. Complex airs Tuesdays at 9/8c on the CW.
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