ALL THE WAY WITH STEPHANIE KAYE!

Posted: August 29, 2011 in Long Gone Loser Interview
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Okay, bust this! Back in January of 2006, I was lucky enough to interview the one and only Nicole Stoffman. “Who?” I hear you say? Well maybe this will refresh your memory… she was better known to us as the starlet who played Degrassi Diva, Stephanie Kaye in Season 1 of Degrassi Junior High. Stephanie was most amusing. Every guy wanted to be with her, every girl wanted to be her. Well, all except Voula. But that’s cos she had a crap dad who wouldn’t let her go to the school dance because they had boys there. Regardless, Stephanie was always one to shake things up. Remember when she tried hitting on that soap star and he gave her his phone number and he tried to put the moves on a 14 year old Steph in his white corvette? Or when Wheels went out on a date and everyone thought Steph was a slut and she’d nail anyone at any time? Or that time when she won the role of school president because she offered guys kisses if they voted for her? Of course you do! You watched it cos it’s awesome. We all did. Degrassi is like the best show for highschool kids that has ever hit the airwaves. Like remember when Rick’s dad beat him up cos he gave Joey a can of coke? Not that it’s related to anything to do with this interview but I just remembered it. Anyway, here is my interview with with Nicole Stoffman that was featured in issue #13 of Long Gone Loser. Read on and enjoy… even if she didn’t remember who Claude Tanner was but then again, she wasn’t in the series then so we let that slide here at the LGL office.

So it’s been almost 20 years since Degrassi first hit TV and your school president days… what projects have you been involved with between then and now?
After Degrassi, I spent a couple more years acting onscreen. I had a leading role in a sitcom starring the late great football star Lyle Alzado. Then I had a lead in a sci-fi flick shot out in Newfoundland. They put me up in a little bed and breakfast overlooking the sea. Then I came back to Toronto and worked as a theatre actress for about 4 years. A highlight of that time was a tour I did of King Lear that took me all around Ontario as far north at Moosonee and then south to… Trinidad! It was, as my fellow actors reminded me, “the Cadillac of tours”. I enjoy studying and I spent a few years at McGill in Liberal Arts and at York in Film Production. But that performing passion kept calling me and 5 years ago I started studying singing and guitar. One day, I went to hear a gypsy jazz band, a kind of jazz that came out of Paris in the 1930’s, it was a beautiful marriage of folk, gypsy and jazz, three of my favourite genres of music, and I fell immediately in love with it. I lived in France for a year as a child, and the band got to know me and kept giving me French songs to sing. Well, I built up quite a repertoire over the next two years. That band broke up and so I hired the lead guitarist, and decided to play the rhythm guitar parts myself. My band is called Le Jazz Boheme, and for the last year and a half I have been making most of my living playing in French Restaurants and at corporate events and private parties. I was also very proud to play at a couple of Jazz Festivals. It sure is fun to get paid to play. Did I say fun? It’s like a waking dream!

This summer I took my French Repertoire on a busking tour of the south of France. I would arrive in a new town, and after visiting all the sights and art galleries, I’d put on a black dress and my railroad master’s cap to collect Euros with, sling my guitar over my shoulder, and busk until my purse was heavy or someone invited me to sit down and drink with them, which usually meant the end of busking for that night. I also played professionally in a restaurant in Paris. Upon my return to Toronto at the end of august, the sky’s the limit. Being a street performer in France really gave me a hankering to get back onstage as an actor. My first love is the Theater, the great writing, the camaraderie, the fusion of intellectual and physical exploration. So right now I continue to book my band; I’ve got a jazz club gig at the end of the month and a corporate Valentine’s Day tea coming up, and researching theater related workshops at the same time. I never want to stop developing and challenging myself as a performer.

How much of Stephanie Kaye was actually you and how much was written into your character?
I was born sexy. I don’t know why. Hmm… That is a good question. I never dressed cheap, though. Being sexy is how you feel not how you look. And trying too hard is never sexy, as Stephanie did by dressing like that. Over the course of the series the writers suggested that what Steph really wanted was acceptance and love, and that in reality, she was very vulnerable. I think that is true of me too. I have a really outgoing personality but hurt easily. As I get to know myself better, I am becoming more balanced and centered, though. And I also show my vulnerability more and more which, paradoxically, makes me less so.

Do you still get recognised in the street and stopped for autographs and stuff?
I haven’t been stopped for an autograph in a while, but yes I do get recognised often, which is odd because I have really, really short hair. It is also flattering, as it suggests that I am ageless, which is true. More often I get recognized in the street for singing French jazz and dancing tap and salsa.

Who were the best people to work with on the show and who were the worst?
It would be ungracious of me to answer who the worst ones were. But, now that I think about it, there really weren’t any bad apples. Being a professional in this business means being easy to work with. Once I got yelled at in the van for making everybody wait for me to change; I am always the last one to finish changing!!, so maybe I was the worst! Kit Hood, the original director was truly wonderful, and I would say mentored me in the art of tv acting. And I really liked acting opposite the twins.

Degrassi’s subject matter at times was pretty confrontational, was there anything that you refused to do due to its nature?
Another great question which is making me sit here and sift through my ancient Degrassi memories. Hmmmmm… I think the opposite is true. There were a couple times that I suggested even more daring subject matter and they didn’t go for it. Don’t ask me what it was, I just vaguely remember the dynamic.

Has Nicole Stoffman ever:
Gotten hairstyle tips from Spike? No way!!!!
Worn Joey Jeremiah’s hat? I was into vintage black and white movies as a teenager, and the Joey’s Pork Pie hat was my idea, in fact. I had a bowler hat back then that I used to wear.
Gone shopping with Lucy for the latest fashions? Nope.
Been for a drive with Wheels when he’s been drinking? Nope. I try not to go for a drive with anyone when they have been drinking heavily. Fortunately, I don’t fraternize with the losers and deadbeats who do that kind of thing.
Thought Claude Tanner’s poetry was any good? Who is Claude Tanner?
Sang the words to “Everybody Wants Something” by the Zit Remedy? I sang it to myself once when walking down the street, soundly scolded myself, and then never did it again.
Gone to work in “everyday” clothes and then changed in the bathroom? I work from home so I can dress however I like. Sometimes everyday clothes for me are a costume! I love to salsa dance, and swing dance, and I also study modern dance, and perform my musical acts in French restaurants, so I do find myself changing in bathrooms quite often to accommodate all of my different incarnations.
Sold any Degrassi memorabilia on EBay? I tried to register once but got frustrated and quit. I do still have my blue satin show jacket with my name on it which i will gladly sell to the highest bidder. Come to think of it, I also have headshots and video demos I would be happy to sign and sell.
Felt like you were in competition with Caitlin for airtime? Nope. We each had such different characters and storylines.
Put forward the idea for a Stephanie Kaye Pez dispenser? I’ll let you handle that, if that’s ok.

When was the last time someone come up to you and said “All The Way With Stephanie Kaye” and does it happen often?
Last night at the bar! Fortunately, he bought me breakfast. Seriously, though, these days I get recognized in the streets of my marvelous home town, Toronto, for being a local jazz singer, tap dancer, and coffee drinker.

What were the highlight moments for you during your time at Degrassi Jr High?
Meeting the twins, Angela and Maureen – who are now professional flamenco dancers, working with Kit Hood – he taught me the finer points of film acting and was very generous, patient, kind and intuitive, and of course, the launch party of the first season. It was a beautiful party at the Royal Ontario Museum where me and the twins got hyper and started lip synching to the tunes the DJ was playing and generally entertaining the crowd. Lastly, receiving the appreciation of fans like yourself is always a highlight for me.

Is there any particular episode of Degrassi that stands out as your personal favourite?
The episode where I contemplate suicide stands out as a personal favourite because it was a real acting challenge and I got to explore the subtler side of Stephanie’s psyche.

When was the last time you spoke with another cast member or do you still keep in touch with any?
Sometimes I see Anais or Stephan; Lucy and Snake, respectively. in the neighborhood. Oftentimes in showbiz the cast becomes a temporary “family” during the period of the show only. At least that’s been my experience.

Any last comments?
You might be surprised to know that I haven’t watched television in at least ten years. I haven’t watched movies in about seven years. I believe that these mediums are dangerous because they encourage voyeurism instead of empowerment. That is, they work because they give the audience the vicarious thrill of watching others live their lives, grow and take risks. I prefer to go out and live my life, grow and take risks in the community provided by living in a cosmopolitan city. Now that I’m off my soap box, I should say that I’ve found the life choice not to consume electronic media and to support the local performing arts scene instead very enriching on a personal level. I would like convey the message that NOBODY you ever see on TV or in the movies is more brilliant, talented, gorgeous and capable than YOU are!

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Comments
  1. Daniel White says:

    But:

    You might be surprised to know that I haven’t watched television in at least ten years – I would be surprised if you didn’t own a computer.

    Brevity is the soul of wit:

    Gone shopping with Lucy for the latest fashions? Nope.
    Felt like you were in competition with Caitlin for airtime? Nope.

    Just funny:

    Thought Claude Tanner’s poetry was any good? Who is Claude Tanner?
    When was the last time someone come up to you and said “All The Way With Stephanie Kaye” and does it happen often? Last night at the bar! Fortunately, he bought me breakfast.

    Maybe no computer, but definitely access:

    Sold any Degrassi memorabilia on EBay? I tried to register once but got frustrated and quit.

    Wrong if polite:

    I would like convey the message that NOBODY you ever see on TV or in the movies is more brilliant, talented, gorgeous and capable than YOU are!

    The last of my two cents:

    And this all prompted by watching an episode of Degrassi on YouTube involving Wheels and Stephanie going the distance.

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