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August 21, 2014

Jordon Todosey on 'Degrassi' and Playing a Transgender Character

by Chris Jancelewicz, posted Feb 11th 2011 10:15AM
Jordon Todosey'Degrassi,' in its various incarnations, has never been afraid to address an issue, no matter how taboo or culturally sensitive. In the past, they've featured abortion, sexual molestation, rampant drug use and even HIV/AIDS before it was "acceptable" to do so.

Now, Degrassi High has a transgender student, Adam, who is struggling with his first real relationship. In classic 'Degrassi' fashion, Adam is not singled out for his identity (though he was at first by peers), and the show treats him like just another teenager. Kudos to the show, but also to young actress Jordan Todosey, who plays the role with incredible accuracy and compassion.

TV Squad sat down with Jordan on her 16th birthday to talk about male idiosyncrasies, what's in store for Adam's romance, and having to chop her hair off.

TV Squad: Playing the part of Adam can't be easy. Is it ever hard or sad for you to tackle this role?
Jordan Todosey: Obviously playing Adam is a challenge in some ways. You have to lower your voice and walk a certain way [Laughs], but I treat him just like I would any other character.

What particular challenges do you face, other than the lowering of your voice and changing your walk?
Other than the talking and walking, I have to wear many layers, and I'm bound down at the chest, things like that. I have to get all these guy idiosyncrasies down pat.

Is there anyone whom you model your walk after?
I was watching my brother and some of my guy friends, just to see how they walk. And also, of course, some of the guys on set had to give their input on how to walk and do all that.

Have you received a lot of positive fan mail and feedback in regards to Adam?
Yeah! Everyone has been really encouraging. There has been a ton of fan mail thanking 'Degrassi' for doing a role like this and tackling such a big issue, especially one that people aren't really aware of. A newspaper in Montreal was very complimentary as well.

On the flip side, have you gotten anything negative?
Not at all, not really. Not that I've heard of, at least! [Laughs]

How does it feel to be part of the legend that is 'Degrassi'?
It's a huge honor to be part of such an amazing ensemble of characters and actors, and I hope it continues to grow. And I brag about it, too... sometimes. [Laughs]

Have you watched any of the old, original 'Degrassi'?
I've actually been trying to catch some of the old episodes. I am only 16, so when the older episodes were airing, I wasn't old enough to understand what was going on.

You're only 16?
Actually, today's my 16th birthday!

Happy birthday! I must say you look older than 16.
I get that a lot. Of course it's good and bad, since I don't want to look 40 when I'm 20! I don't know, maybe I'm just mature.

And what about the hair? Is that a wig, or did they cut your hair?
Oh, yeah, they cut my hair. That was a challenge in itself! Man, I had long blonde hair before. They dyed it brown and cut it. It kept getting shorter and shorter as the season went on, so I was like, "Do they just want to shave my head?" [Laughs] I really miss my hair, though, enough that sometimes I think about going out to buy a wig to brush while I'm watching TV.

Have you been personally affected by this role?
Yeah, I'll be talking to my brother or something and he'll tell a joke and I'll say [lowers voice]: "Oh man, that's so funny!" All of a sudden I turn into Adam. He has to actually remind me so I switch back to normal.

Honestly, playing this character has made me more aware of things that I may have been naïve to, or not know much about. It's shown me what's going on daily with teens, stuff that I might not have been aware of otherwise.

What happens to Adam over the course of the rest of this season?
Well, he and Fiona [Annie Clark] get a bit intimate and close, and Fiona is discovering her sexuality. It was intense and challenging, but at least I got to know Annie pretty well!


Catch Adam on 'Degrassi: The Next Generation' every Friday at 9PM on MuchMusic in Canada. The show airs on TeenNick in the US.

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