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ESSAY / Started from Degrassi / Nikki San Pedro

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Whatever it takes, I know I can make it through!

Since 2001, this mantra, celebrated in the Degrassi theme song, has guided many twenty first century pubescents through the traumas of adolescence. Like many Canadians before the turn of the century, I was ever so blessed to be constantly reminded that Everybody can succeed, in yourself, you must believe, give it a try at Degrassi High! every day I tuned into the reruns of the Canadian classic teen drama on CBC after school. Like many Canadians who got their start on the franchise, I would not be in Los Angeles now without Degrassi.

Back in 1988 when I was two,I emigrated from the Philippines to Toronto with my mom to live with my mom’s much older sister. Without siblings of my own or regular interaction with kids my age once I was home from daycare and school, the characters on TV were my friends, and the kids of Degrassi Street would become my besties. 

Before Emma Nelson and Manny Santos cried in the bathroom stalls of Degrassi Community School about contracting the clap or having a topless video circulating the hallways, I watched Emma’s parents, Spike and Shane, fail miserably at caring for Eggbert, their joint custody egg for their high school family studies assignment. I learned that if you can’t eat paper, maybe you’re not ready to take acid, something Shane should have taken note of before he thought he could fly and so jumped off a bridge. Luckily for Emma, she would inherit Snake as a stepdad and win her battle against the awkwardness of puberty.

For all that I learned from Degrassi: Junior Highand High, I wrote media studies essays in high school about the franchise’s non-preachy tone—how the freeze frames that close each episode before the end credits roll are open to interpretation for the viewers, open to mistakes for the characters. How the not-particularly-attractive age-appropriate non-actors authentically represented the unglamourous awkward stage of life, even when Stephanie Kaye teased her hair and loaded on makeup while cutting down on clothing; she soon saw that she was catering to the male gaze, as so many of us begin to do at that age. How Degrassi’s presentation of various sides to a story or issue allows young viewers to practice critical thinking and empowers them to make a change in the world. 

Each of these reports may as well have functioned like a fan letter:

Dear Degrassi,

Thanks for being so bold as to show me how tough life could be in high school. Kathleen trying marijuana seems like a loud cry for help—a retaliation against her alcoholic mother and abusive boyfriend who didn’t seem to take notice when she got anorexia. I appreciate that you don’t sugarcoat anything and serve it up real, but let’s be honest—Kathleen is not cool enough to be into weed. 

Yick definitely got cool enough to be a pothead, much cooler than Arthur, though it’s pretty sweet that they remain besties. They give me hope that I’ll be that level of cool one of these days—that I, too, can bust past my poor immigrant upbringing to give no fucks about anything.

You’ve shown I can be whatever I want if I believe in myself, so I believe I’m going to continue the Degrassi legacy and come up with stories to help teens face the harshness of high school. 

Love always,

Nikki

When a new incarnation for the new millennium hit CTV in 2001 as I was in high school, I knew this is the change I wanted to make in the world. My high school media studies class showed me how social values and progress can be promoted through TV, so I figured, Yeah I’ll create stories for Degrassi: The Next Generation to make kids care about being better people.

I didn’t really understand what it meant to work as a TV writer, or in any part of the industry, for that matter. But a friend from daycare’s dad was a cameraperson for TV Ontario, one of my best friend’s moms was a newscaster on CBC and her dad had directed documentaries, so I knew that it was something a person could do. Throughout my childhood, my mom would take me and my suburban cousins downtown to CBC studios for live tapings of Royal Canadian Air Farce, a satire sketch show—our Saturday Night Live (which may as well count as a Canadian export, itself), but on Friday nights. It was free entertainment and fun for the whole family! Although most of the Newfie jokes went over my head, it was pretty cool to see cameras move around the studio and become TV on the monitors above our heads. While my mom went to an office and pushed buttons to make accounting things happen, these TV biz parents went to a studio and pushed buttons to make entertainment happen. When I grow up, that could be me!

Toronto’s public education, as far as it served me, a poor Filipino immigrant, was tight AF. When Aubrey Graham—or Drake as he is now known—raps about starting from the bottom (juxtaposed with stocking the shelves at Shoppers Drug Mart in his music video), rather than paint a pitiable scenario of a rock bottom worthy of enrolling into a 12-step program, he shows that Canada’s bottom is quite comfortable and could even serve as a promotional video for raising a family in The 6ix. 

As first-generation Filipinos in Toronto, our bottom looked a little bit different from Drake’s. My mom tells me we used welfare to fix some tooth problem I had when we first immigrated, before I was capable of storing memories. We lived with my older aunt as well as my mom’s younger sister once she immigrated when I was in grade four up until first year university, in a two-bedroom apartment down the street from Forest Hill Collegiate Institute, where Aubrey attended (while he was still Aubrey) up until he dropped out to work on Degrassi. It was the only place we could all afford to live together that was in district for the gifted program at the same school where most of my junior high friends would be attending. Meanwhile, most of my classmates grew up in houses that are worth probably upward of $1M right now. During grade nine Take Your Child to Work presentations, where we had to discuss our parents’ jobs so we could start seeing the virtues of employment, my peers whose parents were lawyers and business owners would talk about the favorite parts of the job being the high profile cases they get to argue or the fun vacations they could take their families on; my mom’s favorite part of the job was getting health and dental benefits for us. We were hella poor, but Canada took care of us. 

My public education at Northern Secondary’s gifted program was just as good as what the uniformed kids received at Bishop Strachan School or Upper Canada College, except for better because it was free. When I was in Grade 10, my exceptional grades attracted the attention of the head of our Co-operative Education department. Determined to help me get closer to my dream of working in TV, Ms.Wardle hooked me up with an internship at Open Mike with Mike Bullard, Canada’s national late night talk show.

At other co-op placements, my classmates got to help out with stage plays or shadow veterinarians during a double period in the morning or afternoon. Since Open Mike taped in the evening, I would get that double period to sleep in or nap (depending on the day), and then would show up at 5PM at the historic Masonic Temple that was converted into Bullard’s studio set to help prepare the cue cards. I was literally writing a talk show at 16 years old, though “transcribing” would give a more accurate sense of my contribution to the production. With most of the content written before the time I arrived, I got very little insight into what it meant to work in a comedy writer’s room. But in between spurts of inhaling cue card ink fumes, I got an early education of line breaks in speech, copy, and poetry.

That season of Open Mike from 2002 to 2003 was the last season before Bullard ended his contract to produce his own show on Global instead of CTV. I was hired as cue cards assistant for The Mike Bullard Show as I started Grade 12, and soon saw just how quickly fortunes can turn in the entertainment industry. Many of Bullard’s viewers did not follow him to his new station, and I was soon collecting severance pay (which I didn’t even know was a thing until I didn’t have a job anymore but was still receiving money for the work I had already been contracted for).   

Even though it was sobering to see so early in my TV career how easy it was to lose a job, any other profession seemed too boring to pursue. Many former Bullard crewmates talked up RTA at Ryerson University as the best connected to the industry (which I learned was not them saying “Arty, eh,” but rather stood for Radio Television Arts once I started browsing university brochures). It was a relatively exclusive program that I assumed I was a shoo-in for because of my experience in TV and my high grades, but I was not prepared for the interview portion of the application. When I was asked why Ryerson, why now, I could not think of whatever clever thing I said in my application essay and instead went on about how it’s just meant to be—that’s the path my life is taking me right now. If I had been better-equipped to bullshit, I would have cited my desire to change the world through writing bold storylines for Degrassi and how learning from this reputable program and its experienced instructors would make that dream come true, and maybe I wouldn’t have been waitlisted below people who brought a portfolio of their DIY movies and script samples to the interviews. Though I hadn’t prepared any backup plan in case I wasn’t accepted into RTA, which sent my mom in a mild panic at the suggestion I take a year off, I received my acceptance in the program in June 2004, just as I was wrapping up my teen-angsty final year of high school. Along with it, a full scholarship from the university as well as a merit scholarship from the Ontario government. Cool, Ryerson, thanks for the last minute switch up. 

But my interviewer must have sensed the truth that I would learn in early 2007 during my third year exchange semester in Sydney, Australia: I do not love working in TV production. 

If I hadn’t just gone through a breakup at the end of my second year of RTA, maybe I could have clued in sooner that TV was not the path for me. But my longest and only official relationship to date had ended, spanning almost four years of adolescent angst. I was too shellshocked and catching up on all the fun I didn’t get to have with my ex to focus on a demanding career and social life atCanadianIdol for the second summer in a row before starting my third year of RTA. 

Instead, to help me save up for Oz, I preferred temp gig after temp gig of brand repping where, just like with TV, I would get to be at high profile events and see new places. But rather than stay behind the scenes and function as human equipment around a studio of other human equipment I was not necessarily fond of, I got to remember what it felt like to flirt again by chatting people up about things I liked anyway. This new cell phone has the capabilities of walkie-ing other phones with this same capability—and let me show you how to save my phone number. 

My non-committed schedule that summer allowed me to visit my mom in Southern California at the end of August, 2006; just over a month after she switched to the Santa Ana office and just over a semester before I would leave for Australia. During my first week of RTA, my media writing professor, who was also the faculty representative for our student exchange, had told us about the opportunity to apply to study abroad during our second semester of our third year. Excited at the prospect of skipping winter, I began planning my Canadian escape back then, which apparently inspired my mom to bail from Toronto, too. “Why would I stay around in the winter if Nik wasn’t here?” she asked herself rhetorically when she broke the news that she would be leaving permanently for California before my exchange semester even started. Knowing my mom, her real question was, “How could I give Nik an escape from winter that is closer than the other side of the planet??” Meanwhile, I could not get The OC theme song out of my head—Californiaaaaaaaa!!! Here we cooooooome. 

During that Summer 2006 Cali vacay, I got to see how real Degrassi’s reach was. I was spending most of my ten day vacation at my uncle’s house in Mission Viejo, where my mom first settled in Orange County. Despite watching Marissa Cooper and Seth Cohen fight for Summer Roberts’s attention on The OC, I did not realize how isolated I would be in this giant suburb of a county as a non-driver. Fortunately I had been talking to a dude on MySpace who was not too far in Dana Point who LOVED Degrassi, which was apparently marathoned on a regular basis on Noggin. When Constantine was trying to get to know me during our first afternoon together at the beach, he asked me if I went to Banting University, the fictional dream school of choice for fictional Paige Michalchuk, one of the Degrassi: TNG OG’s. Between body boarding and suntanning/burning, we talked about the ex-relationships we recently separated from, and he drew a connection to how just like Craig Manning went from Ashley Kerwin to Manny Santos, he went from an Ash(leigh) to a Filipino, too! Even more coincidental, during my last time with him, he had to step away for a bit and when he returned he told me his ex was pregnant and decided to get an abortion. Just like Manny. “It’s gonna cost like $450.” I was grateful to Canada, not only for giving us Degrassi, but also for Kiefer Sutherland’s grandpa establishing a health care system that didn’t making a hard situation even more painful by charging fees. And especially thankful that I would be back in Toronto soon enough and wouldn’t need to live out this particular vacation drama.

The post breakup rebound phase distracted me from my tepid feelings about working in TV, especially since I was living out my own dramatic storylines. But the sentiment was harder to ignore in Australia. Whereas another RTA exchange student spent her time working on film shoots for free, I had a blast employed as a brand representative Foster’s and their portfolio of beers, pushing booze onto new friends. I was not looking forward to returning home to finish my bachelor’s degree in a program I no longer wanted a career in—reaching for a higher rung in a ladder I didn’t want to climb only to be stuck working with a crew I wasn’t interested in drinking and karaoking with once we wrapped for the day. 

Right as I was leaving Australia in August, 2007, and wanting to finish uni with a clear head, I began weaning off the SSRI antidepressants I started taking during my breakup. My dosage definitely reduced the physical symptoms of anxiety and didn’t let me dwell on anything that could really bum me out long term, but nothing I was lectured on really stuck with me during my third year of uni on this medication; I could flip around a paper about what I had just *learned* in Media Ethics, but whenever I received my good grades back, I had no recollection of understanding or writing any of the things about intellectual property in my report. Though I evidently performed well, I missed the critical thinking skills Degrassi helped me develop. Unfortunately there wasn’t an episode that helped prepare me for reverse culture shock, letting my free health insurance lapse while I was out of the country, and the consequent depression relapse. 

I enjoyed adulting in Sydney so much that I was so proud of myself for filing my own taxes before I departed when I otherwise would always let my mom account them, yet I managed to overlook the mail that was forwarded to me about re-upping my provincial health care, OHIP. For a while, our OHIP cards were white with a red stripe along the horizontal center and did not expire; when my wallet was stolen in February, 2003, I had to get a green one with my photo printed on it that would have to be renewed by my birthday in 2007. I neglected to submit some form to continue my coverage without any gaps—something that is so simple compared to figuring out Obamacare, let alone anything that came before it—and so I had to wait an agonizing three months before I could get free access to medical services again. After allocating much of my savings to my costs in Australia, I was not keen on the idea of spending upfront for any doctor, even if I desperately needed it. It’s just not the Canadian way. 

Maybe if there was a Degrassi episode about Liberty getting injured on a school trip to the US and needing to get surgery before she could return back to Toronto, I could have been warned about how shitty it would be to have to pay out of pocket and would’ve remembered the importance of keeping my OHIP valid. Or at the very least—remember that it was possible to still seek help and pay out of pocket because my mental health was worth it. 

But without any pertinent Degrassi episodes to guide me through my return, I toughed out those three months of my penultimate RTA semester without any meds or any therapy as I increasingly felt stuck in a life that did not feel like mine—stuck with my aunts in frigid Toronto on the west end of town and finishing a degree that I no longer cared to use—instead of the one I left behind in Sydney, with a flat on Bondi Beach and a career that took me all around the inner and outer suburbs, to festivals and sporting events. 

As a graduation requirement, we had to complete a production practicum during this semester, working with the same group through the post-production practicum in the ultimate semester. My group project was a set of three commercials for a fashion client, which I chose not so much for the work experience I’d get, but rather for the safety I felt with my group mates; our producer was the other RTA exchange student with me in Sydney and our production manager was someone I’d worked well with and co-won an award for our factual entertainment feature on the Skate4Cancer foundation during our second year. I chose to produce our EPK (Electronic Press Kit which basically boasts how awesome you are) for the practicum because it was sort of like my own documentary production shadowing the commercial production crew merged with my growing interest in communications and marketing—but mainly because all the other executive positions were spoken for. 

Past graduating classes seemed to become like brothers and sisters during practicum time, but I felt like the disgruntled aunt. I did not want to be there. To be fair, my untreated depression did not make me want to be anywhere. But I especially did not enjoy spending my time painting flats for our commercial set, setting up and tweaking lights on the overhead grid, or wrangling and interacting with the *talent* of amateur actors with non-speaking roles. 

 Somehow through my mental fog, in a Senior Capstone Lectures class early in the semester, I registered that my professor had announced that the speaker for the following week would be Linda Schuyler. He had never given us a heads up on the guest before, and he did not continue to do so after, quite possibly because many of us would recognize that name as the creator of Degrassiand ask for a job. I almost wasn’t one of those people. 

Watching Linda’s lecture the following week, I felt what I imagine Ellie Nash felt when she met Caitlin Ryan, inasmuch as I could feel things with my depression. Sure, I had jumped off the ladder of the production company of Canadian Idol, but Degrassi was the reason for my TV biz dreams in the first place, and I needed to satisfy an internship requirement for the final semester of RTA. The night before, I had written and printed a cover letter to go along with my resume, name-dropping Linda’s VP of Marketing & Communications who was a floor director I worked with on Open Mike, and requested an internship placement there. Though I did not feel like myself or necessarily believe the self-testimonials in my cover letter, my muscle memory from having written about Degrassi so much kicked in. 

Before the evening class where Linda would be speaking, I spent the day in the painting studio to turn a white flat beige for an office scene. I developed grayish freckles above my own and collected streaks of other colors like the tackiest racing stripes on my clothes and person from walking into other flats and painted surfaces. Definitely not a killer look for someone asking for her dream job. But other classmates were making their move from their seats to the aisles down to the stage of the lecture hall where Linda was offering words of encouragement to anyone hanging out at the end of class. I needed an internship, goddammit, and epileptic-youth-environmentalist-turned-journalist Caitlin Ryan would not appreciate that I wastefully printed a resume and cover letter if I wasn’t going to submit it. Plus, according to her body of work, Linda loves diversity, and I definitely could contribute to that! 

With envelope in hand, I followed the stream of job hunters until I could deliver it to her. If they have a chance, mine should be better. “Hi Linda, are you accepting interns next semester? I’ve worked with Stephanie before on Open Mike and I hope I can get another chance to!” 

She seemed happy to receive my resume and told me that she would pass it on to Steph who was responsible for hiring and supervising interns. I had an in! Short and sweet, yet that interaction took all the ounces of feeling like a person I had for the rest of the week.

On edge while awaiting Stephanie’s decision, I followed up with her. And in that surreal blur that hits when your dreams finally start to come true so you lose sense of time because you’re not sure what’s real and what’s wishes, I can’t recall whether it was by phone or email or when it happened, but I got the good news that I would be doing my senior internship placement at Epitome Pictures, the name of the production company of Degrassi: The Next Generationas well as Instant Star. I would be working with Steph in the Marketing & Communications department, beginning in February, 2008 as the end of season six was just hitting the air and before season seven pre-production.  

If I wasn’t depressed, I imagine I would have happy-danced every day up from Steph’s acceptance up until my internship started. I might have reenacted the various Degrassi opening credits throughout the seasons to start my day. I could have even thought clearly enough to figure out a specific endgame for my internship instead of just a vague desire to be hired and paid to show up and see my favorite program getting made. But up until I went back on medication again at the end of 2007, I feared losing my internship before I even got the chance to start it, for no reason in particular except the depressive worries echoing any time optimism dare make an appearance. Though in my fourth year, for the first time I was receiving below an A-level grade in an English class—a B-minus in an intro-level course for my English minor requirements, to add insult to injury—an identity crisis in itself that just added to my growing self-doubt. It somehow would just make sense if I lost my Degrassi internship.

With my new dosage of meds working their way into my brain chemistry throughout January ’08, and my internship starting in February, I had enough time to stabilize into a new normal of less self-doubt so I could feel competent starting at my dream workplace. 

Whereas documentary was my jam because I could puzzle-piece interviews and b-roll together to tell humanitarian stories, and marketing communications and copy were fun because puns (and rhymes), early in RTA, I realized that scriptwriting was my least favorite kind of media writing and did not enrol in further classes. The way the Courier Sans splashed down the center of the page and required blurbs of notes to complete the instruction manual of a narrative was not my preferred way of consuming stories, so I did not develop a taste for writing in that style. I didn’t really know enough yet about being in a writer’s room to realize that embracing script format and interning with the writers would have been the way to achieve my dreams of changing the world by coming up with Degrassi storylines. But interning with the Communications department gifted me with new dreams that I didn’t realize I had until I achieved them. 

A mixture of forgetfulness and the likely chance I’ve signed some confidentiality NDA means I can’t get into all the quirks I loved about my internship. But it’s not news that the Epitome Pictures offices were built to double-function as set pieces for their productions, so I’ll mention that peeing has never been more thrilling than getting to tinkle in the same stall Emma got her period in, and getting to eat lunch in the Degrassi cafeteria would have only been more enjoyable if Spinner was there to serve it to me. 

The communications department dealt with the non-production aspects of deepening the connections between the fans and the shows. I got to screen the fan letters that came in for the Instant Star and Degrassiactors—plus those that were addressed to their characters—and would swell with pride that I got to be involved in something that made youth much more manageable for so many individuals out there. On top of that, among the pool of new RTA graduates, I won the Arthur Weinthal Award which recognized “exceptional capacities promising success in the industry while completing a senior year internship” for yet another Degrassiessay I wrote about my placement. My self confidence and sense of competence had returned just as I was graduating in June ’08. I was where I had wanted to be ever since I was old enough to have a realistic career dream that wasn’t just wanting to be Oprah or a chemist (to make drugs) when I grow up. What next? The communications department (consisting of like four people who I didn’t think would ever leave because why would you leave this dream job?) did not have a position for me to advance to once I was out of school, but the receptionist was planning to leave.

My dream to work for Epitome Pictures had nothing to do with a love of answering phones and greeting anyone who walked into the doors, though sometimes I got a kick out of seeing myself as a Degrassi Community School secretary in Principal Snake’s office. When this opportunity was initially presented to me, I discussed receptioning until the end of the year on a temp contract while I got things in order to join my mom in Southern California. The freezing Canadian winter that I was so fortunate to escape while I was in Australia had done an excessive job at reminding me why I only applied to partner universities in Oz in the first place, and I did not want to have to struggle through one more.  

But I had never had a job with a salary and benefits (because, hello, I was only 21); a year-minimum contract might be worth tolerating winter to close out my time in Canada while buying more time to figure out how I would make the move to Cali and save enough money for it. (As I write this now, 31 years old, receptioning for Degrassiis still the only job to date that I’ve had that came with a salary and benefits, because, hello, heavily restricted work rights and mental illness.) It afforded me the life I wanted rather than the one tied to my aunts; after my first year of university, we moved out of our Forest Hills two-bedroom apartment and into adjoining 3-bedroom townhouses on the west end of town, where they became homeowners for the first time. Great, finally a house like what I wanted to grow up in; except for being grown and in college, an apartment on my own and more central in the city felt more like home to me. 

Although my administrative position wasn’t my dream job, I finally got my dream Toronto. As I transitioned into this position, I was still able to join some castmates on a community building trip to Ecuador in partnership with the organization Free the Children in August ’08 without using any vacation days, and caught a new career dream of working on more of these entertainment and nonprofit partnerships once I moved to Cali sometime in ’09. In the meantime, signing my contract with Epitome was shortly followed by signing a year lease for my own one-bedroom basement unit just a block away from Bathurst Station where I could take the Bloor line up to Victoria Park to work on the east end, and just a little bit further to my favorite restaurant, Sushi On Bloor. Dan, a fellow Filipino RTA classmate who became a best friend when we graduated, was so inspired by my move; he soon left his cousins’ house near my family on the west end where he lived throughout undergrad, and moved into a bedroom in a shared house on the other side of my block in the Annex. Whenever he needed to do laundry, he would pick up sushi takeout and we would eat while he used my ensuite washer and dryer. We were also within stumbling distance from cafes, late night snacking places, dance parties, and repertory film theatres—anything a post-collegiate could want. 

One of the last plotlines that premiered, suitably enough, in tandem with my departure of Toronto had a four-episode arc where Degrassiwent to Hollywood. Manny Santos caught up with Craig Manning in Los Angeles, where he had some show dates as a successful musician-cokehead and she was pursuing her dream to act by trying to work with Jay and Silent Bob in Hollywood. There is a scene where Craig speaks of a fictional Canadian store with hometown snacks. Pete Wentz is there for some reason, elbow-deep in a Lay’s family size ketchup-flavored potato chip bag—my favorite. The four-parter was also edited as a feature-length production and screened to our crew at the Bloor Cinema. Sponsored by Lay’s, the October ’09 screening had a surplus of snack-sized ketchup chip bags at the end of the night, and I was more than stoked to be able to make a few trips walking from the theater at the corner of Bathurst and Bloor all the way down the block to my basement apartment with box after box of ketchup chips to stock up for my border crossing. Six boxes—some unopened, some with bags missing—would be just enough to last me until the February 2010 Winter Olympics in Vancouver. I would never have been dedicated enough to maneuver the fourish-foot stack of chip boxes on the TTC if I was still all the way on the west end, nor would I have probably made it there with all boxes accounted for if other passengers got the idea to snag a box for themselves. My Annex basement was the apartment that gave me more than I would ever know to dream. And greeting people at Degrassimade me able to live there. 

As a kid, I didn’t dream past that. Degrassi was all I wanted out of my life as an immigrant in Canada. 

Now, like Manny Santos and Craig Manning in the Hollywood special, like several cast alum including Cassie Steele, Shenae Grimes, and Nina Dobrev, I follow legacy of Canadians who get to live our own California dreams, all thanks to Degrassi.

Though I’m writing a book about how I’ve been in LA on various visas while waiting for my turn to get a green card since January, 2010, and it might not be until after 2020 that I receive it, given this post-Obama climate; and how my depression might have been exacerbated by career burnout from hustling during the recession while having work restrictions; though Trudeau is the Prime Minister now while the US president is who he is, I’ve remained resolute on staying in Southern California regardless of my visa status. 

After nine plus years at the end of my twenties and into my thirties in Los Angeles, my adult roots have firmly locked into the snow-free soil of my Echo Park neighborhood, the Annex long forgotten. The plan is to sell my immigration guide/memoir so I can qualify for an artist visa and continue bridging the time ’til I get my green card. I’m not going anywhere. LA is a city that pushes you to be industrious to succeed and, thankfully, I’ve used my time to figure out how to make it on my terms. 

I’m not done California dreaming yet. Whatever it takes, I know I can make it through.


Nikki San Pedro is a Filipino-born Canadian residing in Los Angeles since 2009. She has spent the last decade navigating the broken US immigration system and working on a memoir/how-to book, soft-titled American Dreaming: A Millennial's Guide to Legal Immigration. And she wouldn't have gotten here without the positive role models from the Degrassi franchise.