This Former 'Degrassi' Star Is As Obsessed With The Show As You Are

by Savannah Walsh

Fans are upset — that it took this long for Drake to stage a much-awaited Degrassi reunion in one of his music videos. The glorious cameos in question appear in the video for Drake's new single, "I'm Upset", in which the rapper and his former Degrassi: Next Generation co-stars head to their (11th?) school reunion. Naturally, hijinks ensue, but even when the gang is spray painting school lockers or burning down a building, fans can't help but smile at the long-awaited reunion. And while some of the cast has stayed top-of-mind since Drake ended his stint on the show in 2009, including Nina Dobrev and director Kevin Smith, others have kept a low profile. One such cast member is Lauren Collins, who played queen bee Paige Michalchuk on Next Generation. But 10 years after her time on the show, where is Paige from Degrassi now, in 2018?

Paige ruled the halls of Degrassi Community School and beyond from 2001-2008, where she led the spirit squad and made "hun" one of the series' most hilarious accidental catchphrases. But Collins herself has been crafting her own spot in the entertainment industry in the decade since she left Generation. Shortly after leaving the show, she made small appearances in some of the best nostalgia-filled projects of your youth including Picture This. Yes, that's the Ashley Tisdale-Robbie Amell movie that played on the Freeform (then ABC Family) airwaves approximately 10,000 times.

Collins also had roles in Disney Channel's Life with Derek as Derek's annoying love interest Kendra and the sort-of High School Musical spinoff movie Sharpay's Fabulous Adventure. But the actor has clearly never forgot where she came from, as she's made an effort to keep a foot in the Degrassi universe whenever possible. Collins reprised her role as Paige in the 2009 Degrassi Goes Hollywood movie and in a 2016 episode of Degrassi: Next Class. Her Instagram bio even proudly touts that she's "Not A Mean Girl But I Played One On TV," which is evidence that she owns her Degrassi roots completely.

Collins has also stayed in touch with her castmates over the years, and so it's no surprise that she made sure to document the filming of the Drake video. She posted cast member selfies, shared photos of eating pizza with co-star Adamo Ruggiero, and even confirmed that the Degrassi cast indeed has a group text. (Feel free to dust off your Degrassi DVDs so you can process this revelation mid-marathon.)

When Collins isn't making your inner tween squeal in a Drake music video, though, she's doing guest-starring arcs on shows like FX's The Strain and the YouTube Original series Impulse. She's also just living her life like any other person, filling her Instagram feed with relatable victories (such as becoming an executive member at Costco) or epic throwback pics of her pre-Degrassi days. Plus, she got engaged to actor Jonathan Malen on her 30th birthday in August 2017. Malen and Collins co-starred in various projects together including the films Take the Lead and Charlie Bartlett and an episode of The Strain, according to I Heart Radio.

"When your birthday party turns into your engagement party!!!!! ❤️💍🙊🙊💍❤️"

But for many fans, Collins will forever be associated with Paige. And in the face of major Drake-Pusha T drama that shows no signs of ending soon, going back to a simpler time like Degrassi feels necessary — and who makes a better squad than the show's cast? Though fans can't stay in the hallowed halls of high school forever and cast members like Collins are onto their next adventures, peace can be found in the knowledge that all of your Degrassi faves got to have one last jaunt through the gym.