Breaking into Hollywood is no easy task. But that’s just what the aspiring actors, dancers, music producers, and comics of The CW’s Canadian import, The L.A. Complex, (premiering Tuesday at 9/8c) will try to do. Think of it as Fame-meets-Melrose Place with a dash of Degrassi: The Next Generation. Below, star Cassie Steele explains the Complex connections to her previous gig; what makes her wannabe actress, Abby, different; and why mouths will be gaping at the adventures of these Hollywood newbies.
DEGRASSI ROOTS | The CW’s newest soap has more in common with the long-running Canadian teen series than just its star — Steele played Manny Santos for nine years — and producers Epitome Pictures. In fact, The L.A. Complex was thisclose to being a Degrassi: The Next Generation spinoff! “We did an episode called ‘Degrassi Goes Hollywood,’ and I think people responded to it really well,” explains Steele. “It got people thinking maybe we should do a spinoff of people going down for pilot season or trying to make it, that nitty-gritty side.” But the project developed a life of its own and “morphed into something much more mature” and representative of a bunch of struggling performers. Needless to say, it’s a far cry from the sunny, happy ending of “Degrassi Goes Hollywood.”
ABBY IS MANNY, BUT NOT | Like her Degrassi alter ego, Steele’s Abby is striving for stardom and doing everything she can to reach it. “They’re both really driven [characters],” says the actress. “Manny tried to drive across the country in a school bus, and Abby is driving across the country and living in her car.” But the similarities end there. Thanks to Jay and Silent Bob’s visit to Canada, Manny “had a foot in the door already with movies. Abby is starting from scratch.”
IT GOES THERE | They say you can’t be shy in Hollywood, and The L.A. Complex certainly isn’t. The first three episodes alone broach a number of hot topics – which we won’t mention so as not to ruin the “Oh my God, did they just … ?!?” fun – without so much as a blink of an eye. But that’s just the way it is in Canada. “It’s really different up here,” explains Steele. “We don’t really have so many boundaries. … It’s a really nice feeling to know that you’re working with people that are taking that jump, taking that leap, and going there.”
WANTING MORE | Prepare yourself, because every episode of the increasingly addictive series ends with a “very exciting,” very juicy cliffhanger focusing on one character. Watch out in particular for a surprise twist involving Benjamin Charles Watson’s wannabe music producer, Tariq, and a troubled side to Jonathan Patrick Moore’s rising actor, Connor Lake, who books his first TV series. “[He’s] trying to handle people giving you all this attention all of a sudden,” previews Steele. “It can be really lonely.” But the biggest shock is yet to come. “The end of the sixth [episode] is a really big cliffhanger,” teases the actress.