For nine seasons, actress Aislinn Paul played Clare Edwards on the iconic Canadian TV show Degrassi: The Next Generation. Once only seen as “the younger sister,” Clare entered Degrassi High as a gifted student with a strong religious background and conservative beliefs, but soon transformed into a more mature young adult, experiencing love and heartbreak, a cancer diagnosis, and a teen pregnancy. Now, Paul is taking on a new role in the NBC series Heroes: Reborn. No longer portraying a high school academic, Paul plays Phoebe Frady, an Evo—an evolved human who possesses a supernatural ability. Without a mentor to guide her, Frady explores her unique power of manipulating light and shadow amidst a society that fears the evolved. From high schooler to superhero, Paul proves she can tackle any role.
Cliché: You played Clare Edwards on Degrassi: The Next Generation for nine years. What was it like leaving that character behind?
Aislinn Paul: I was very sad to say goodbye to Clare. You get to know a character almost as well as yourself after playing them for so many years, but it also felt like it was time to let her go, let her live her own life. Perhaps that’s too sentimental, but it’s hard not to be that way after almost a decade.
Were you surprised at Degrassi’s cancellation or were there any indicators?
I was going to be graduating at the end of the season regardless, so right from the start of the shoot, everything gave me a sense of finality. But I think when a show has been on for 14 seasons, you’re always looking for the other shoe to drop. It just seems too good to be true to be on the air that long, especially for a Canadian teen drama. We had a good run, and I think we all feel very lucky.
Did you like how the series ended?
It was a great gift to be able to take time to say goodbye to all those characters and get a sense of where they’re headed in the future. It was a great send-off.
Where do you see Clare in the future?
I think she’ll end up at Columbia eventually, whether for her undergrad or a later degree. I think New York is a great city for her, and she will really thrive there.
Netflix has picked up Degrassi for a new incarnation of the show, Degrassi: Next Class. Any chance Clare will make an appearance?
I don’t think a Clare appearance is in the cards for now. I think it’s important to let this new group of kids find their voices on the show and let these characters grow. As much as the audience may miss the old characters, the rotation of faces is what makes Degrassi special.
Tell us a little about your character, Phoebe Frady, on Heroes Reborn: Dark Matters. What drew you to her?
Phoebe is such a wonderful and fragile character. Her sense of self is really delicate at this point in her life and she really only has her brother and her roommate to lean on. And in contrast, her power is so strong. It’s easy to see how she could be overwhelmed by it. The web series was a great way for the audience and for me to get to know Phoebe’s backstory and hopefully lend a little compassion her way when you see her on the show.
Were you a fan of the original series?
I was a huge fan of the original series. I never missed an episode, and I have the first two seasons on DVD. It was just so original at the time, and I loved that.
What’s it like playing Phoebe?
The Phoebe you see in Dark Matters was pretty easy to find because she’s very relatable, but the Phoebe you meet in Heroes Reborn was way more of a challenge. The hair/makeup really helps me get into character.
I love the strong relationship she has with her brother, Quentin. Will we get to see more of their relationship on Heroes Reborn?
I love that relationship, too. We didn’t realize until we were shooting Dark Matters just how strong a connection Quentin and Phoebe have. You do see some interaction with them in Heroes Reborn, but it’ll never be quite the same.
Your character has the power to manipulate light and shadow. If you could have any one power in real life, what would you want it to be?
Time travel, definitely. I really enjoy history and would love to travel back to some of the biggest moments in history. I’m also chronically late so time-travel would help with that.
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“Aislinn Paul Interview” originally appeared as “Out of the Shadows” in Cliché Magazine’s Dec 2015/Jan 2016 issue. Photo credit: Lane Dorsey