Stefan Brogren knew at a young age that he wanted to be in the arts. There was simply nothing else he’d rather do. His dreams became a reality when he landed the role of “Snake” on the hit Canadian series, Degrassi Junior High. “I think it was a shock to everybody watching the show. It was exciting [and] funny to know that we could get away with it. It made us feel more adult at the time.” Stefan was the first person to say “fuck” on Canadian television. “It was kinda different. Things were just so weird back then – what you were allowed to get away with.”
Being a young star always presents a unique set of circumstances. Stefan states that much of what he did in his own life was blended into five or six scenes and he often recalls his double life as a real life high school student as well as being a student on Degrassi. “I think they sort of intermingle sometimes in my memory. They sort of blended together where I was like, ‘That guy wasn’t on the show, I [actually] went to high school with him.’”
After his run as Snake, Stefan went to theatre school. He wanted to know if he could play another character and if this was actually something he wanted to do. “I think while I was there I started feeling like I wanted to be a little more on the other side of the camera and started befriending young filmmakers and editors my own age. They were trying to figure out how they could get into the film biz.” In collaboration, he made a few shorts. He also made an independent feature that was sold to The Movie Network and to the IRC when he was just 24. He ended up winning “a couple” of Gemini Awards for directing and producing and was also nominated for two Emmys.
Outside of the arts, Stefan is also a partner at Dog and Bear – a bar located on Queen Street West. “I don’t know anything [about] the restaurant industry at all, so I was a little timid,” said Stefan. Upon discovering that the Dog and Bear was going to be a sports bar, his interest grew. His major contribution, besides finance, is the wallpaper on the back wall. He prefers to let his partners run the establishment. “Watching them work is spectacular because they really know how to spin a bar. I screwed up a gin and tonic. It’s a lime, not a lemon in that one,” he says with a smile.
Currently, Brogren is focusing on producing and directing, and has been working for Epitome Pictures. “They’re a great company for pitching ideas and for allowing people to have a lot of creative control. I think it’s really great because you’re not living in a vacuum. You’re allowed to explore, and that’s what I think keeps Degrassi fresh in this stage of the game. We do things that sometimes our Executive Producers look at and [they’re] like, ‘What the hell were you thinking?’ And we reply, ‘Ya, it’s hysterical, isn’t it?’”
WORDS: ADAM HENDRIK
PHOTOS: MAX POWER & SASS FRASER
LOCATION: THE DOG AND BEAR