Did Miriam McDonald have an Eating disorder?

In this blog, we will explore Miriam McDonald and her eating disorder, and also cover who Miriam McDonald is, which eating disorder she was suffering from, depiction of the eating disorder in the show, and also answer frequently asked questions. 

Did Miriam McDonald have an Eating disorder?

Yes, Miriam McDonald was suffering from Anorexia nervosa while she was playing the character of Emma who also had an eating disorder on the show ‘Degrassi’. We will explore and discuss it in detail in further sections.  

Who is Miriam McDonald?

Miriam Mcdonald (born on July 26, 1987) is a Canadian Actor from Oakville, Ontario who is known for playing the character of Emma Nelson, the lead role in the teen drama television series Degrassi: The Next Generation was produced by Nelvana in Canada and broadcast by Global Television Network in Canada and U.S. television networks NBC in the United States. The show premiered on August 1, 1992, and ended on September 16, 2000.

Degrassi & McDonald

The cast of the teen soap opera Degrassi can be a challenging place to work, but the writers never shied away from tackling serious issues. There are so many moments in the teen drama series Degrassi that are impacting and life-changing, but one episode, in particular, stands out for Miriam McDonald. In the first season, the writers had Emma get her period in class — with a giant bloodstain across her bright white skirt. The actress, who played Emma at the time, remembers being horrified when she first saw the scene. “I was like, ‘Oh my God, the blood is going to be everywhere.’

The writers of Degrassi, which was produced in Canada and aired in the United States on NBC didn’t shy away from tackling the gritty, embarrassing issues of adolescence — instead, they brought the real issues to the forefront and focused on the glossy, pretty parts of high school. That approach has made the show unique among teen dramas, which is why it’s been emulated time and time again. But it hasn’t always been easy to be a part of the series, Miriam McDonald says.

In the past, writers have had characters deal with everything from eating disorders to addiction. But for actress Miriam McDonald, her one-time role as Emma on the show brought with it some very personal challenges. McDonald, who played Emma from the show’s debut till the 9th season, revealed in a recent interview that the writers made her character anorexic while she was in treatment for an eating disorder of her own. “

McDonald’s eating disorder and her character Emma on the show

The Degrassi series is known for its heart-wrenching storylines, and its cast members have become accustomed to tackling tough issues on screen. That often means the writers will make thematic decisions that are difficult to watch but are necessary to tell the story. 

One such moment came in the sixth season, which told the story of Emma’s anorexia. At the time, Miriam McDonald was struggling with the condition, and she said she couldn’t have been more grateful for the storyline.

But every so often, the writers would throw a wrench into the production by making one of the main characters anorexic, says Miriam McDonald, who played Emma on the show from 2015 to 2017. 

The actress never expected the writers to make her character struggle with an eating disorder; it was a painful reality to face while she was in the thick of recovery. To this day, McDonald says the show’s writers never intended to cause such pain, but they’re aware that the anorexia storyline hasn’t been kind to her. “

When Degrassi first tackled the issue of anorexia, it was a heavy topic for the show to manage. The writers drew from their own experience to craft a realistic portrayal of the eating disorder, which is why it was so difficult to watch when Emma became anorexic. 

But on set, the writers had their own struggles with the topic, which is why they were so committed to getting it right. They didn’t want to stigmatize those struggling with the real disorder, so they decided to make Emma’s anorexia a medical, rather than a mental, disorder.

What does McDonald have to say about the show?

“I don’t believe it was properly represented. “That is such a huge issue for me,” McDonald said regarding Emma’s season 5 narrative to Steele, 31, on Sunday, June 27 before crying. 

“They know that my sister died after 15 years of suffering from a severe eating issue, therefore I believe that the tiny way in which the episodes brushed over it was almost a disservice in my perspective.” … There’s a range where you can dabble in an eating problem like Emma did and fight your way out after a few weeks, but there’s a point where you can’t go back.”

Actor Steele said shooting the eating disorder episodes was “some of the hardest” and “tense” to make. “I remember being like, ‘I can’t believe we’re doing that scene,’” he continued. 

“We would cry, we would be very empathetic toward her, but it was difficult to watch.” But McDonald, who played Emma from 2015 until 2017, said she never expected the writers to make her character struggle with an eating disorder; it was a painful reality to face while she was in the thick of recovery.

While the authenticity of the eating disorder storyline was important to the writers, it also proved to be a difficult production to film. 

The eating disorder episodes were some of the most difficult to make, says actress Steele Sudler-Smith, who played Mimi Marucci on the series. “It’s so hard to watch, and it’s so hard to watch your cast go through that process,” added Steele. “It’s so intense, and it’s so difficult, and you feel like you’re letting them down.”

When asked if she agreed with the way the eating disorder was portrayed on screen, actress Steele said she was sad to see the storyline fall into the “stereotypical eating disorder” category. 

“To me, that’s the thing that’s more difficult to talk about, because it’s so close to home,” she said. “It’s so close to what happened to my sister because it’s so closely tied to the eating disorder world.” Steele agreed that shooting the eating disorder episodes was “some of the hardest” and “tense” to make.

Miriam and her struggle with Anorexia

Miriam said “It’s not something I’ve really talked about in those episodes, my own difficulties with an eating disorder in the early seasons. It’s not something I’ve ever wanted to talk about because I never wanted to glorify it,” she stated. “Having experienced it firsthand, I only wish that more could have been done with them.”

The actress added that she didn’t put as much of her “heart and soul” into the storyline as she could have because she was “trying to keep that arm’s length distance because it was so relevant.” As she continued to film the eating disorder scenes, McDonald said she was cognizant of the fact that she was playing a role, rather than her own experiences. “I didn’t want to put in as much of myself because I didn’t want to be like, ‘Oh, look at me, I’m anorexic,’’ she said. “I’m not confident enough to say that.

” Steele said that she understands why the actress chose to approach the topic with caution. “I think it was really important for her to keep that distance because she didn’t want to be seen as glorifying it,” she said. “She was really sensitive to that.”

“There was so much pressure to do it right because it was such a heavy issue, and I didn’t want to just kind of put my heart and soul into that storyline and it falls right into the stereotypical eating disorder category,” she explained. “So I was trying to be very mindful of that. But at the same time, I wish that I would’ve put a little bit more of my own experiences into it.

“As a teenager, you read some of these brutal things that are written and it’s very hard not to let that affect you,” McDonald said, on the 20th anniversary of the show Degrassi Perhaps that’s a real place of discomfort for a lot of people. You recognize that there’s a lot more to this and it’s not just you and how you feel, it’s other people.

‘Emma is a character that I like portraying,’ McDonald said. ‘She’s very human. Even though she’s a heroine, she has flaws and she makes mistakes. So it’s just a good role for me to portray because it’s very human.’

The actress, who is from Oakville Ontario, says that it was important to her to keep her eating disorder “just personal” and “not make it like a disease.”

The cast of Degrassi has come a long way since the show first hit the airwaves in the 1980s. Nowadays, many of the storylines — from anorexia to coming out — are heavy topics for the series to tackle. But for Miriam McDonald, the one storyline that stood out above all others was the one in which she and Sean Spinner (played by Danny Clark) were in love but then broke up. It was difficult to watch, she says, but it was important for the writers to tell the story.


We talked about who Miriam McDonald is, what was the eating disorder she was battling through during her work on Degrassi as Emma, and also talked about what she had to say about the portrayal of an eating disorder on the show. 

Frequently Asked Questions: Did Miriam McDonald have an Eating disorder?

What happened to Miriam McDonald?

After nine seasons as Emma Nelson — and a cameo on— McDonald continues to act in Canadian productions. She has also worked as a yoga instructor and real estate agent. But most notably, she has been a strong supporter of the LGBTQ community. In 2016, she came out as transgender and changed her name to Miriam.

What happened to Emma from Degrassi?

Emma eventually decides to go on the Re-Cycle project for the summer, but the university is on hold because she feels that Smithdale is not right for her. In Degrassi Takes Manhattan, school is out for Jane and Spinner is happy that it’s going to be the summer of a lifetime. Despite their plans, Emma and Spinner can’t stay away from each other forever. They sneak off to a romantic getaway in the mountains, where they realize that they were made for each other.

How old is Miriam now who was in Degrassi?

Miriam is now 34 years old and she was born in 1987. 

Why was Terri written off Degrassi?

Schmidt appeared on Degrassi for three seasons before she left to focus on her modeling career. As a result, her character Terri left the school after her abusive boyfriend, Rick, put her in a coma. She returns for a cameo in the season 10 episode “Let’s Make a Degrassi Deal.” Schmidt has since modeled for multiple brands, including Nike and L’Oréal, and has been active on social media.

What happened to Miriam McDonald’s sister?

Miriam McDonald has reflected on her time on the hit TV series Degrassi. The actress has discussed her sister, who also died after a 15-year eating disorder. McDonald told People that their mother was “devastated” when the news broke.



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