Summerland might’ve only lasted two seasons, but it still holds a special place in our hearts. The WB series centered on the Westerly kids, who had a normal life in Kansas until their parents tragically died and they were sent to live with their aunt Ava (Lori Loughlin) in Summerland, California.
In addition to Ava’s struggle to raise her niece and nephews she had to deal with a tricky relationship she had with her ex, Johnny (Shawn Christian), while her neighbor, Jay (Ryan Kwanten), aka the surfer guy, became a big brother figure to the kids. The show was all about growing up in California and trying to get through life with a make-shift family and it was awesome. Plus, it featured appearances by a young Zac Efron, which is always a positive in our books. See what the cast is up to now below:
Lori Loughlin (Ava Gregory)
Lori Loughlin was hands down the biggest star on this show. After playing super aunt, Ava Gregory, on Summerland, Loughlin guest-starred on a lot of TV series before playing the mom, Debbie Wilson, on the 90210 reboot. That series ended in 2012 and the actress continued her acting dominance becoming the lead in all of the Garage Sale Mystery movies on Hallmark. In 2016 she reprised the role that first made her famous, Becky Katsopolis aka Aunt Becky, in the Full House sequel, Fuller House on Netflix, which is now headed into season 2. You go girl!
Ryan Kwanten (Jay Robertson)
Australian actor Ryan Kwanten got his first big break down under playing numerous characters on Home and Away. He continued to make a name for himself stateside thanks to his role as surf shop owner Jay Robertson on Summerland. Since hanging up his surfboard, Kwanten has been in a slew of movies, but his biggest claim to fame has been his seven-season role on True Blood as Jason Stackhouse. True Blood wrapped in 2014 and now, the 39-year-old actor is back to movie roles, with two films currently in the works.
Jesse McCartney (Bradin Westerly)
Remember the early ‘00s heartthrob, Jesse McCartney? Well, he was also on Summerland. Right off his musical success with songs like, “Beautiful Soul,” McCartney took on the part of Brandin Westerly on the California-based series. Once the show ended in 2005, McCartney didn’t stop acting. In fact, he voiced a lot of different video game characters and animated characters in films like Horton Hears a Who!. He was also on Greek, Young Justice and Army Wives before playing Cooper on a recurring role on Young & Hungry. Music wise, McCartney has released four studio albums, with his latest in 2014 called In Technicolor.
Kay Panabaker (Nikki Westerly)
Kay Panabaker became a Disney darling after she played Nikki Westerly, the only girl in the Westerly crew. She was a Disney Channel Original Movie star appearing in Life Is Ruff the same year Summerland ended, and later Read it and Weep, alongside her real-life sister, Danielle Panabaker. Plus, she played Debbie Berwick on Phil of the Future from 2004-2005, including numerous months after the WB series ended. After her Disney stint, Panabaker starred in a variety of movies and TV shows before playing Daphne Powell on No Ordinary Family in 2011. She also landed a recurring role on CSI: Crime Scene Investigation. The 26-year-old star is no longer acting, however, instead she is a Zookeeper at — you guessed it! — Disney.
Shawn Christian (Johnny Durant)
Shawn Christian has been one busy guy since Summerland ended. Christian played Johnny Durant, who was a father figure to the Westerly kids. Following the show, Christian landed a huge gig on Days of Our Lives, which he has been on since 2008.
Merrin Dungey (Susannah Rexford)
Merrin Dungey played Susannah, who was Ava’s best friend on Summerland. She as been in the acting game since 1995 and after her stint on the WB series, she finished out her roles on both Alias, where she played Allison Doren and Francie Calfo, and The King of Queens, where she played Kelly Palmer. Once those two long-running series wrapped, Dungey could’ve taken a much-deserved break, but instead she did a few guest star roles and starred on Hollywood Heights in 2012. Last year, she played Ursula on Once Upon a Time and Dr. Susan Hamburg on the now-canceled Chasing Life. Most recently, Dungey made her debut as Maxine Bohen on the new ABC fall drama, Conviction.
Nick Benson (Derrick Westerly)
The youngest of the Westerly kids, Derrick was played by Nick Benson. A few years after Summerland, Benson laded a role on Swingtown and then went on to guest star on a few series including, Mad Men and True Jackson, VP. His last acting role was in 2012. So what has the 22-year-old former actor been up to these days? Well, according to his brother Dan Benson’s Instagram — Dan is also an actor (Wizards of Waverly Place) – Nick just graduated from MIT in June!
Which Summerland character was your favorite?