Degrassi's Cassie Steele Previews Her Move to The CW's L.A. Complex

L.A. Complex Cassie SteeleBreaking 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.

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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.”

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L.A. ComplexIT 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.