On Tuesday, March 7, Wilfrid Laurier University’s Brantford campus hosted a public book signing and talk with Linda Schuyler, the co-creator of the show Degrassi.
After opening her presentation with a book signing for her novel The Mother of all Degrassi: A Memoir at the Carnegie building, Schuyler spoke about what inspired her to write her memoir and told the story of how she entered the film industry with the award-winning series Degrassi.
Brantford residents and students filled the lecture hall in the Carnegie building to listen to Schuyler’s story.
Schuyler said she decided to start writing about her journey creating Degrassi during the COVID pandemic.
The Mother of all Degrassi: A Memoir was published in November last year, sharing the story of how Schuyler went from teaching Grade 8 to producing a famous TV series. Interesting details that fans will enjoy reading, like stories from behind the scenes of Degrassi, are included in this new memoir.
“It was an interesting process for me to write my book because it gave me an opportunity to sort of look back over my 40-year-plus career and get some perspective, something that we often don’t have time to do,” said Schuyler.
Degrassi is a well-known Canadian show that is aimed at a teen audience. It first found success in 1979 and continues production today.
Schuyler herself expressed her amazement at how the series was able to survive over four decades. She said she believes this success is partially due to how Degrassi captured teen struggles in an authentic way that adolescents could genuinely relate to.
The show focuses on a diverse set of issues, from problems teen-immigrants face to the struggles of LGBTQ2S+ members. Much of the show includes experiences related to Schuyler’s own adolescence as well.
Schuyler said she began making documentaries of her students’ stories because of her creative mindset, which she had all along, despite having become a teacher. These documentaries were the first step into her career creating Degrassi.
“I realized that my work is a combination of my role as a teacher, as a storyteller and as an entrepreneur,” said Schuyler.
Schuyler said her love for youth is what motivated her to create this long-lasting series. She believes her journey throughout 40 years of working in the film industry was worth sharing in The Mother of all Degrassi: A Memoir.