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By Wendy Gabrek
The Town of New Tecumseth has produced many great talents, including Ricardo Hoyos, star of the Family Channel's “Degrassi: Next Steps.”
Degrassi: Next Class is a pull-no-punches dramatic series that tackles the real-life issues of high school students.
Telling the stories of “Generation Z,” the series focuses on a group of teens that are, in many ways, the most sophisticated in history.
With equal measures of humour, angst and heart, the students of Degrassi grapple with a series of “firsts” as they begin their journey into adulthood. Pushing their own limits and testing the bonds of family and friends, the students each find their own way to deal with a range of issues from homophobia, racism, substance abuse and violence to burgeoning sexuality, body issues, heartbreak and the complications of dating in the social media age.
Hoyos stars on the series as Zig Novak, the heartthrob boyfriend, who is faced with jealousy and attachment issues with his on-screen girlfriend, Maya, who has taken him into her home, after being discarded by his own family and living on the streets.
Keeping true to the spirit of Degrassi that generations have known and loved since 1980, Degrassi: Next Class takes the 485-episode franchise into its next iteration and remains the longest running dramatic television series in Canadian history.
In fact, “Snake” from the original series, is still involved with the show, playing the principal at Degrassi High.
Hoyos grew up in Alliston and graduated from Banting Memorial High School in 2013, where he played on the rugby team for the Banting Marauders. He now lives in downtown Toronto, pursuing his acting career full-time.
Hoyos was home over the holidays to reunite with family and friends, and says his childhood in New Tecumseth has shaped him into the man he is today.
“I grew up like any other good Canadian boy,” Hoyos told The Times. “I wouldn't be as cool as I am, if it weren't for having grown up in Alliston.” Quickly adding, “If I were cool, that is,” and laughing.
Hoyos, who is now 21, says that even though the story lines have changed – to include new issues like catfishing and social media bullying – Degrassi has stayed true to its roots, and the program has the same positive impact on its viewers.
“I've seen episodes from the original Degrassi series, and even though it was filmed 30 years ago, it's still relevant. I am so lucky to be part of a show that is so relatable,” he said.
Hoyos got the call that he had been cast in Degrassi: Next Class, while on lunch in Grade 10 at Banting. He said he remembers being “so excited,” and “freaking out.” He credits the show as his “ultimate stepping stone” to date in his acting career.
On set, Hoyos and his castmates learn lines and read through the their scripts four at a time. The cast is able to give input on what's working, and what's not, and tweaks are made. They then do a run-through of each scene, before filming.
While filming, Hoyos told The Times the hardest part is the emotional scenes, as he's not saying, or doing much. Hoyos is careful to remind himself to “stay out of his own head,” and not over-act.
On the heels of his favorite actors, including Dustin Hoffman, and Leonardo DiCaprio, Ricardo Hoyos has a wide range of television and film experience including roles on Gramps, Dino Dan, R.L. Stine's The Haunting Hour, Haven, The Jon Dore Show, The Rick Mercer Report, Outlander, Forever, ‘Til Death Do Us Part, What You Eat, Good Morning World, The Secret of the Nutcracker and Back in '93. Ricardo had a lead role in the movie Toronto Stories which premiered at the 2008 Toronto International Film Festival and again in 2010, premiered at TIFF in the short film The Armoire. This performance garnered him a Young Artist Award nomination in the category “Best Actor in a Short Film.” In 2011, Ricardo was nominated for and won a Young Artist Award in the category “Outstanding Young Ensemble in a TV Series” for Dino Dan. In 2013, Ricardo shot the film Billy The Kid.
Hoyos said that he'd like to move to Los Angeles, California, to further pursue his acting career, and work with “the best.”
To the budding actors and actresses of New Tecumseth, Hoyos offers this advice: “Keep truckin'! This is an industry full of rejection and you will face a lot of criticism. It has nothing to do with you, it has to do with who's right for the part.”
Degrassi: Next Class premiered on Jan. 4 on Family Channel. The 20-episode series continues weekly at 9 p.m.
Excerpt: The Town of New Tecumseth has produced many great talents, including Ricardo Hoyos, star of the Family Channel’s “Degrassi: Next Steps.”
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