Cassie Steele beams as she looks back at the character she grew up with as she prepares for a new adventure.
The actress and musician, 33, is currently expecting her first child, an exciting milestone that comes 20 years after she stepped into the center of the acting ensemble Degrassi as her character, Manny Santos, began to come into her own as a woman — a turning point for both the show and the character.
“There are definitely a lot of big feelings and emotions associated with pregnancy. I’m trying to get so much done before the baby comes, but looking back Degrassi it was a really fun vacation,” she tells PEOPLE.
In the iconic Season 3 episode “U Got the Look,” Manny opts for a more mature look, wearing a blue thong later dubbed the “whale tail” and starting a trend for an entire generation. However, what fans — who have paid homage to the iconic moment with Halloween costumes, TikToks and memes in the years since — don’t know is that the moment was inspired by real life.
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“I was the youngest member of the cast for the first few years and I remember just wanting to stop being cute. I wanted to be taken more seriously, to be a little more grown up. I decided to wear a thong on one of the rehearsal days and not too long later, we were sitting for reading and ‘U Got the Look’ was born,” she reveals.
“I didn’t even know it was about me at first. I guess what probably happened was that the guys on set were talking about it, and then the crew overheard and the producers overheard it, and that’s how it was inspired. It was very shocking to me — exciting, but and really embarrassing at the time to read this and be red-faced in front of this whole young team,” Steele reflects.
And while she couldn’t fully appreciate what was happening, Steele says it “feels really good” to look back and be a part of a moment that resonated with so many viewers.
“At that time when you’re young, you feel like you’re the only one. Like I was the only one who wanted to do that kind of thing when I was that age and with the cast. I think we were all very different personalities, which made it so a great ensemble,” she says.
Steele adds, “Some of us are lifelong friends, but ultimately it’s our differences that make us friends, not our similarities. So it’s nice to think that as I was going through that time, I sometimes felt like I was almost targeted by my peers. .. there were so many people who were connected to it.”
While Steele jokes that she’s “going to have to explain a lot to my kids,” she feels better than ever about being a part of a series that tackled such challenging topics: “I think there’s a whole new appreciation for it now because I realize that I wasn’t himself.”
“That makes me feel pretty proud. I mean Degrassi he was simply different. It was really raw,” Steele tells PEOPLE.
When asked if he thinks Manny would be a mom today, Steele says that after all this time, “I feel like Manny and I have been walking in step.”
“I think she would be a mom. She’s probably always wanted to be a mom, but I don’t feel like she’d slow down for anything. I’m sure she’s got her job somewhere, she’s ready up there,” she speculates. “She’s got her kids and she’s that ‘do it all’ kind of woman. She’s going through that divorce, she wants to marry someone younger, that kind of thing.”
For Steele, the pregnancy came a little sooner than she imagined, not long after she settled in Nashville and launched a series of projects.
“I thought, ‘I’m going to do everything this year,’ I was all over the place and started so many projects. I was really overexerting myself and I felt so exhausted. I just felt so overwhelmed, so pregnancy was a really nice reset,” she shares she.
“I think a lot of people would agree that the first trimester is the worst because not only are you dealing with all these new hormones and you’re not trying to tell people, so you feel isolated, and you have a lot less energy issues,” she says. “I think it’s hard to deal with that little ego death, but once you get over it, it’s better.”
Filled with confidence and optimism for what lies ahead, Steele enthuses, “I love being pregnant and I feel like everything happens for a reason.”
When it comes to preparing for the baby, Steele jokes that she “read about 20 baby books in the first week after I found out I was pregnant.”
“I’m definitely a ‘I need to know everything so I don’t go crazy,’” she laughs. “I’d just rather know what’s best to do and what my options are. I’m planning a home birth, but I also have an auxiliary hospital.”
As she prepares to welcome her baby boy, the mom-to-be “has a few names picked out,” but says she and her partner “will wait until we meet him to make sure it’s not horribly wrong.”
Steele has a few more tricks up her sleeve before the baby arrives, with her band PSYCHOCANDY releasing a new EP on Halloween, along with their live videos for single “Monster,” on all streaming platforms.
After that, she’s looking forward to a slower end of the year where she’ll be able to spend a lot of time with the baby and “turn off the phone and say no to work.”
(Photo by Jerritt Clark/Getty
“I’m busy keeping this thing alive and that’s what I’m most excited about for this new adventure. I was a stepmom in my last marriage, and when I met my stepson, he was 2 years old. We were married for a few years and that’s was a really special time for me,” she shares.
“Obviously this is a little bit different. In that situation you develop love and you become vulnerable with them and your life completely changes. But I feel like I learned a lot about myself and learned about how big your heart really gets when you have to completely throw yourself out of equation and put someone else first. It’s a really wonderful experience and I’m excited to experience it again.”
Links: Pregnant Cassie Steele Reflects on Iconic Degrassi Moment 20 Years Later as She Approaches Motherhood (Exclusive) – Tekmonk Bio, Pregnant Cassie Steele Reflects on Iconic Degrassi Moment 20 Years Later as She Approaches Motherhood (Exclusive) – Kungfutv, Pregnant Cassie Steele Reflects on Iconic Degrassi Moment 20 Years Later as She Approaches Motherhood (Exclusive) – Hot News