Teen Degrassi star on the rise

T.O.’s Amanda Ar­curi plays adorable Lola Panici on Degrassi: The Next Class. We chat with the 19-year-old about the show and grow­ing up un­der the spot­light.

The Kids Post - - News - by Jon Sufrin

What was go­ing through your mind when you took this role, and is it a char­ac­ter that you can re­late to?

When I took the role I was a nor­mal high school stu­dent and that was freaky enough al­ready. Tak­ing the role was just in­sane. I do re­late to Lola — I took one of those Buz­zFeed per­son­al­ity tests, and I got Lola, which is weird. Lola is very smart in her own way, but she’s very naive some­times, and I’m there with her.

Do you still get a chance to be a nor­mal teenager these days?

Some­what. It is hard to pick out friends. I’m still go­ing out and do­ing what I like as a nor­mal kid, but some­times I’ll have other peo­ple sur­round­ing me be­cause of the show, and it’s hard to dif­fer­en­ti­ate who’s gen­uine. Some­times you can’t en­joy your­self as much when ev­ery­one’s watch­ing you — there are a lot of things I have to hold back be­cause of peo­ple look­ing up to me or watch­ing.

You re­cently posted an In­sta­gram photo of you smok­ing. Was that your way of say­ing that you’ll do what you want, that you’re your own per­son?

Mostly that, but I was also look­ing at the body­pos­i­tive side of it. Hey, I’ve got my rolls, I’ve got some fat here. Ev­ery­one needs to chill. Smok­ing was a part of it. It wasn’t a cig­a­rette — I don’t smoke cig­a­rettes — but no mat­ter what it was, it doesn’t mean you should judge me or judge oth­ers on what they do. One of the com­menters was quite up­set about me smok­ing, and I had to tell them they shouldn’t put shame on oth­ers for what they do with their lives.

In­ter­net com­menters can be nasty. How do you deal with that?

It does de­pend on what the com­menter is say­ing. Some­times they’ll say weird ran­dom stuff, but I did get one com­menter say­ing that I looked like a slut, and I did step in be­cause that’s not OK. I re­spond nicely and as pos­i­tively as I can.

You al­ways hear peo­ple say, “Don’t read the com­ments.”

Oh no. I love read­ing the com­ments. There is a lot more love than hate that I get. When I see that one hater, I don’t care. Bul­ly­ing or what­ever doesn’t af­fect me yet. If I get more hate, I might be af­fected, but I’m good for now.

What do you make of the show’s switch from TV to Net­flix?

It’s amaz­ing. Tele­vi­sion was hold­ing us back from ex­plor­ing bet­ter top­ics, from go­ing more in-depth into top­ics.

Do you feel like the show is an ac­cu­rate de­pic­tion of what it’s like be­ing a teenager?

Yeah. I’ve seen a lot of peo­ple go through sim­i­lar sit­u­a­tions that the char­ac­ters go through. Some peo­ple think that stuff, it doesn’t hap­pen, that it’s unreal or silly. But there are so many dif­fer­ent types of peo­ple, you never know who will re­late. When I see the show on TV, it’s beau­ti­ful, and I think, “Wow, thank you for do­ing that for oth­ers.”

Do you have any ad­vice for other teens look­ing to fol­low in your path?

Put your­self out there and see what hap­pens. Don’t be afraid of any­thing. Be your­self all the time.

What’s it been like for you grow­ing up in Toronto? Any favourite hang­out spots?

Grow­ing up in Toronto has been amaz­ing. I’ve learned a lot of street smarts. I love Kensington Mar­ket — it’s the best place ever. There’s this 24hour pho place, Pho Pas­teur, and that’s my favourite place.

Is there any colour you won’t put in your hair?

Def­i­nitely not. I love ev­ery sin­gle colour. Maybe yel­low. I kind of want yel­low, but that’s blonde. It might just look like an ugly dye job. So maybe yel­low.

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