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.
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.