Degrassi is back, and there's more drama than ever -- literally! The 10th season of the hit show is hitting TeenNick as a telenovela -- Degrassi episodes will air four nights a week for six straight weeks! J-14 sat down with Raymond Ablack and Charlotte Arnold to hear all about the new season, the tension between their characters Holly J. and Sav, and what they think of former cast members The Vampire Diaries' Nina Dobrev and Aubrey Graham, aka Drake.
J-14: Can you give us the scoop on season ten?
Raymond Ablack: We lost "The Next Generation" name at the end of Degrassi -- it's just Degrassi now. It's the 30th anniversary of this franchise!
Charlotte Arnold: It is obviously an entirely new format. There are brand new episodes four times a week -- kind of like a soap opera -- telenovela style. It changes the storytelling a little bit. We're shooting four episodes at a time instead of two, so storylines can get dragged out a little bit longer. There is a really big cast and for some seasons, they focus on just a couple of characters, but this season, every single character has really insane stuff going on in their life. All the stories interact and intertwine.
Raymond: With 48 episodes, the writers have the leeway to write amazing stories for every single character with a huge ensemble cast, which is nice because it gives the audience a chance to fall in love with every character that they see.
J-14: What was it like filming to film that many episodes?
Raymond: It's what is it like right now -- we're smack dap in the middle of it! This is the first time for us where we will be filming it and the show will be airing its premiere episode.
Charlotte: It's cool because we get instant feedback, which we don't normally get. We'll be on the forums. Some people don't like to admit it, but we go on and see what people are thinking.
Raymond: I want to know!
J-14: What's happening to your characters at the start of season 10?
Charlotte: You are going to see this movie we filmed in New York last fall called The Heat Is On, where Holly J. goes to New York with Declan, Fiona, and Jane. Jane is off doing her own thing, and Holly J. is focused on making her relationship with Declan better and also following her dreams -- she gets a very prestigious TV internship. Coming off of that crazy, awesome summer, we go back to Degrassi and things are back to reality. Her family has some pretty serious financial problems going on, and she has to deal with not living that fairy tale life -- she has to make things happen for herself so she can get to where she wants to be after high school.
Raymond: Holly J. comes back and season ten picks up right at the end of The Heat Is On -- it is seamless. When Sav was in grade 11 last season, he became friends with the grade 12 guys like Spinner, Peter, and Danny. Now it's grade 12 for Sav and he's in familiar halls but with no familiar faces. He's got no real friends. He is trying to grab the reigns back of the school and take it over. He should be ruling the school this year and he's going to try to make it a real thing by challenging Holly J. for President.
Charlotte: Whoever wins the election is going to have a lot of responsibility. Mr. Simpson actually takes over as principal this year, and he can be a little bit too trusting.
Raymond: And it's got to be obvious that with all the tension building between us and the election rivalry that sexual tension would slip in there somewhere - it's bound to happen. It's Degrassi! Charlotte's gorgeous and I'm a boy.
J-14: What do you for fun when you're not filming?
Raymond: My spare time is spent with the band, which are the same guys from the show -- [former cast members] Shane Kippel, Jamie Johnston, Dalmar Abuzeid, and Scott Paterson. We were on set playing these instruments, and the idea came to us to jam at Shane's house. We're called Soundspeed. Last year was a lot of developing songs and trying to write songs that are decent. This year has been a lot of shows at night.
J-14: Do you still keep in touch with Nina Dobrev and Drake?
Raymond: Aubrey Graham -- Drizzy Drake -- is such a pride for all of us at Degrassi.
Charlotte: It is so cool. We love Drake.
Raymond: It is not a lie and kind of cheesy and lame, but we sing his choruses all day. The very first gig we booked was the wrap party last year. Paula [Brancati], the band, and I performed one of Drake's songs for the wrap party.
Charlotte: I saw him in concert last summer. I went on Ticketmaster [to buy tickets] and went to the concert -- I was a total fan. His knee was broken at that point. We went to the MMVA's and crossed paths on the red carpet. He came over and said hi. It was so much fun, like a street party. We saw Nina there as well and she came over and said hi. We are happy for her.
Charlotte and Ray also made this exclusive vid just for J-14 -- and it includes a 14-Second (Or More!) Diary of their day! Check it out here:
The two-hour TV movie, The Heat Is On, will air on Monday, July 19 at 9 pm ET. After that, brand new episodes of the 10th season will air every Monday-Thursday for six straight weeks, through August 26. Catch them on TeenNick at 9 pm ET.