“Degrassi’”s Andrea Lewis Reveals the Costars She’s Still in Touch with — and Why She'll Always Call Drake 'Aubrey' (Exclusive)

The actress and producer starred on the Canadian teen drama from 2002 to 2006

<p>George Pimentel/WireImage; J. Countess/Getty</p> Andrea Lewis on Degrassi in 2002 and in 2022

George Pimentel/WireImage; J. Countess/Getty

Andrea Lewis on Degrassi in 2002 and in 2022

For Andrea Lewis, filming the hit Canadian teen drama Degrassi: The Next Generation in the early 2000s was much like a high school experience.

And now, more than 15 years after her last appearance as Hazel Aden, she and her castmates still keep in touch much like a graduating class.

To this day her best friend is Christina Schmidt, who played Terri MacGregor on the series from 2001 to 2004.

“I still talk regularly to Sarah Barrable-Tishauer, who played Liberty,” Lewis, 38, tells PEOPLE of her lasting relationships. “And that's why I'm like, ‘It's just high school.’ Do you follow people from your high school? Do you get to see people from your high school on Facebook or on TikTok or Twitter, whatever? It's kind of that exact same experience.”

<p>George Pimentel/WireImage</p> Sarah Barrable-Tishauer, Aubrey Graham/Drake and Andrea Lewis on Degrassi in 2002

George Pimentel/WireImage

Sarah Barrable-Tishauer, Aubrey Graham/Drake and Andrea Lewis on Degrassi in 2002

“[Christina and I] go on vacation together, we're like best friends, and then she happens to still be very close with Sarah. So it's very easy for all of us to be like, ‘Let's go to dinner. Let's go do something.’ And then Aubrey is the same where you could easily be like, ‘Oh, I'm going to meet up with Aubrey and maybe I'm going to bring Christina,' ” she continues, referencing former costar Aubrey Drake Graham, now more widely known as Drake. “So all of us kind of get to interact in that way."

Related: Drake Recalls 'Getting High' Right Before His 'Degrassi' Audition Due to His 'Desire to Be Accepted'

Lewis, who says she is still in touch with the Grammy-winning rapper, adds that she and Drake were “very close” while filming the show and remembers how he, along with other castmates, was always busy pursuing projects outside of the show.

“No one on the show was just banking on being on Degrassi for the rest of their life,” she explains. “So, everybody pursued other things. I pursued music, Jake [Epstein] pursued music, Cassie [Steele] pursued music. Everybody pursued all these other things. And so I always tell people, I'm like, ‘Aubrey's success, anybody I know could have that success.’ "

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She continues, "Not to detract from his success — he works very hard and has done amazing with his life — but as in I know people that are pursuing their dreams. So, his dreams were very valid at the time, just like the rest of us. Everybody's dreams were very valid.”

And today while much of the world knows the rapper as Drake, Lewis still calls her friend “Aubrey.”

<p>Andrea Lewis/ Instagram</p> Andrea Lewis and Drake in 2018

Andrea Lewis/ Instagram

Andrea Lewis and Drake in 2018

“That's his name!,” she says.

“I always knew that Drake was the more, I guess, suave name that we could say, versus 'Aubrey', ” she continues of the “God’s Plan” rapper. “I actually love the name Aubrey on him. I think it suits him, but at the same time I knew Drake was his artist life that he wanted."

“I think 'Drake' gave him a chance to give people a fresh, new slate of him,” she concludes.

<p>Derek White/Getty</p> Andrea Lewis in 2023

Derek White/Getty

Andrea Lewis in 2023

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In recent years, Lewis has given much of her time to developing her own projects including a docu-series called Black Beauty Effect currently available to stream on Netflix. She says a follow-up to the series, which she's been screening around the world, is also in the works.

“I have a lot of creative things that I'm working on right now,” she says. “But recently I told somebody, I was like, ‘I'm just excited to be in this season when you kind of get to decide what it is you want.’ ”

She continues, “Because as an artist, you need those moments where you don't feel pressure, but you get to just say, ‘I'm actually going to just spend this next week daydreaming and see what I get.’ ”

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