Jacob Lee Epstein (born January 16, 1987) is a Canadian actor and singer who played Craig Manning, a bipolar musician, on Degrassi: The Next Generation. He also played Will in the First National Tour of American Idiot and originated the role of Gerry Goffin in the Broadway production of Beautiful: The Carole King Musical.
Epstein was born in Toronto, Ontario. His mother, Kathy Kacer, is a Norma Fleck Award-winning writer of children's stories about the Holocaust, and his father, Ian Epstein (born 1955), is a lawyer. He has an older sister, Gabi, an actress and jazz singer. Epstein is Jewish and was raised in Conservative Judaism. Epstein stated in 2019, “I would consider myself spiritually Jewish rather than religiously Jewish. It was certainly a big part of my upbringing and certainly a big part of my identity.”
Epstein made his professional stage debut in a Soulpepper Theatre Company production of Our Town at the Royal Alexandra Theatre before playing the Artful Dodger in Mirvish Productions' stage production of Oliver! After appearing on the TV show The Zack Files, he played Craig Manning on Degrassi: The Next Generation for five seasons and won the Gemini Award. The character of Craig became a musician on the show and had to cope with parent abuse and bipolar disorder. Epstein said, "At the time, mental illness was not really something anyone was talking about. There was a huge stigma attached — I had never seen on TV, and certainly not in a teenager. I loved the opportunity to portray someone who was conflicted and not perfect..." Craig impregnated a girl named Manny who gets an abortion, and Epstein noted that those episodes were "initially banned" in the United States. Epstein indicated that he "got the chance to really flesh out this guy that felt like a darker extension of me."