Straight Talk With Adamo Ruggiero

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AB: I imagine there must have been a lot of cognitive dissonance for you when you hadn’t come out but you were playing Marco, who is gay. You said in the Fab interview that the story lines are very much based around the actor’s personal lives, so what was going through your head when you were getting these scripts? Do you think the writers were trying to tell you something? Do you think you could have done it without Degrassi?

AR: There was a lot of self-doubt. I was playing this character and he was coming out and here I was not being myself. It worked in two ways. It was positive in that I had my own coming out manual, the show helped me, but negatively it really involved overcoming my own issues. My whole personal life was broadcast throughout the world and I wasn’t ready to face those questions and see the answers. There were a lot of times when I felt like a fraud, like “Who am I to play this character?” And I got all these letters about how I was helping people out and I was like, “Oh, God, what am I doing?” It was really intense. Ultimately, in retrospect, who knows if I could have done it without Degrassi? I don’t know. The show helped me test the waters emotionally and who knows what would happen if I never had the opportunity.

AB: I’m very envious of Canadian citizens. You guys are so close to the United States – obviously, we’re neighbors – but it’s an entirely different world. It’s far more progressive. We would never, ever have anything like Degrassi on an American network – not when I was growing up, at least, and maybe not even today, because there’s such a right wing fervor in the United States, which certainly Canada has, but it’s not given as much political legitimacy. The right wing has become so ingrained in our political system. How do you view American politics? You must follow it a little, right?

AR: It’s hard not be influenced here by it. We look up to America like our big brother. We have this subconscious pull. America’s always set the tone. In term of politics, but we’ve never really been immersed, we don’t know how – there’s not as much political participation. The difference is that we don’t have as much to lose. We’re a young nation, we’re coming to age and we’re all getting – we really have nothing to lose. It’s interesting, because we look up to you, but at the same time, I also get all these letters from places that I thought were so great, but the kids are afraid of getting beat up. We never had that here and I’m proud of that.

AB: What you were saying about American kids afraid of getting beat up – there’s a story from Los Angeles, I’m not sure if you saw it, but an 8th grade kid was shot by a classmate allegedly because he was too feminine. It’s wild! I mean, I try to stay optimistic about the United States and where we’re going, but it’s so difficult sometimes.

AR: It depends on the next president. I look to America and I see the enormous, large crowds supporting people to lead their country and I think, “How gorgeous is that?” What a beautiful image – I watch it and I get butterflies! The passion is inspiring – that passion for a country. You guys are something. To look at you guys, where people care about their country, it’s amazing.

AB: Would you ever move to the United States?

AR: That’s been a huge question. I really have – I kind of have a love affair with Toronto, it’s one of my favorite places, I’m really happy to have grown up here. The opportunities are great, but so are the challenges. I’m not really sure what my future holds.

Regardless of where he goes post-Degrassi, Adamo promises to stay in the arts. Let’s hope he stays on our screens, too!