It’s been over four years since I’ve posted here at DegrassiBlog, and I’m saddened to return under these circumstances.
Jahmil French, who played Dave Turner on Degrassi has passed away at the young age of 29. A cause of death wasn’t revealed. Degrassi creator Linda Schuyler released a statement:
Jahmil first came onto the Degrassi scene in Season 9 as Dave Turner, the guy who had lofty ambitions of being the cool guy at school that gets all of the ladies.
While he was a character often used as comedy relief to start, he found himself in the middle of a couple of serious storylines. In season 11, Dave was at odds with Adam after discovering he was transgender in Cry Me A River, but he eventually came to learn his transphobia was wrong and he and Adam became close friends.
Dave received his first major solo storyline in Smash Into You, in which a former fling tries to ruin Dave’s chances of getting Alli back. Jahmil was nominated for a Canadian Screen Award for his performance.
When people say “Representation matters,” it reminds me of Dave Turner. He was eventually phased out of the show in Season 13, but I’ll never forget how great it was to watch a young black actor who looked like me excel at every opportunity he had on Degrassi. Dave Turner might not have made all the right decisions, but Jahmil’s acting accomplished exactly what Degrassi strives to do: present characters to the world who are flawed and complex, but ultimately learn and grow through the mistakes they continuously make throughout young adulthood.
There’s been an overwhelming amount of support and tributes from all corners of the Degrassi community. It doesn’t matter how many years have passed, people will never forget the impact you had on their lives. Jahmil’s legacy will live on through everyone who was blessed enough to know him and experience his talents. Below are some of the posts from the Degrassi cast and crew responding to the heartbreaking news.