McIntyre had relatively humble beginnings in acting, as she was a participant of many community theatre plays as a small girl. Among the plays that she participated in were The Wizard of Oz and The Secret Garden.
McIntyre made her television debut at age eleven in the 1997 series, Timesweep, where she got to play an extraterrestrial being. In 1998, she was cast for another television show, this one named Real Kids, Real Adventures.
McIntyre is also one of the now-rare radio actresses, as she played the lead character in Disco Does Not Suck, a show that had a relatively long stay on the airwaves. She took some time off during 1999 to participate mainly in theatre, but in 2000 the thirteen-year-old actress returned to television, doing a voice-over in the cartoon series Mattimeo: A Tale of Redwall, as the character "Cornflower".
It wasn't until 2001 that McIntyre reached national fame in Canada, when Degrassi: The Next Generation, began filming there. A sequel to the popular mid-1980s series Degrassi High, Degrassi: The Next Generation proved extremely popular among Canadian teenagers, and, by being cast as Ashley Kerwin, McIntyre was given one of the leading characters of the series. McIntyre is a member of a high school music band in the show, and appears sporting both long and short hair in the series.
For Degrassi, she was credited as a lead regular through season's 1-4 (2001-2005). During the fifth season, McIntyre was written off and said that her character moved to England to succeed in her music career. However, she returns to Degrassi in the season five finale and appears through season 6 and half of season 7, but only as a supporting character. Despite being a recurring character through season's 6-7, she still played a major role in the show. In the middle of season 7, McIntyre's character was permanently written off Degrassi, when her character Ashley and her on/off on screen boyfriend Craig moved away to go on tour in their music careers.
McIntyre's fame did not immediately cross over to the United States. However, in 2002, the show's rights were bought by Nickelodeon, which began to transmit it on The N, a channel geared towards teenagers; the show then also became a hit in the U.S.
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