Canadian rapper Drake threatened to quit Degrassi if his character didn’t come out of the wheelchair because it made him look “soft” to his friends, a writer for the show has claimed.
The highly acclaimed four-time Grammy award winner skyrocketed to fame as Jimmy Brooks in the first seven seasons of the Canadian teen drama Degrassi: The Next Generation.”
In the fourth season, Brooks became paralyzed after getting shot in a school shooting by another classmate.
Speaking with AV Club for Degrassi’s 20th anniversary, James Hurst, a writer for the show, alleged that a letter was received from a Toronto law firm from Drake, who tried to depart before the sixth season came along.
“It was an odd letter that said, ‘Aubrey Graham [Drake’s real name] will not return to ‘Degrassi’ season six as Jimmy Brooks unless his injury is healed, and he’s out of the wheelchair.’ I said, ‘Get him down here,’” Hurst told the outlet.
Hurst said when he finally talked to Drake about it, he seemed confused, saying that he didn’t “know about that,” to which Hurst said he understood.
Hurst then asked Drake how he felt about his character in the wheelchair, to which Drake allegedly said, “All my friends in the rap game say I’m soft because I’m in a wheelchair.”
In an attempt to remedy the situation, Hurst told Drake to point out to his friends that his character was shot.
“How much harder can you get? You got shot, and you’re in a wheelchair.’ He was like, ‘Yeah, yeah,’” Hurst continued.
Soon after, Hurst said that Drake was “apologetic” and nice about the whole ordeal and “instantly backed down.”
“I was very passionate about it, and I said, ‘Aubrey, there’s some kid somewhere in a wheelchair, who’s completely ignored, who’s never on television, never gets represented’... You’re the coolest kid on the show, Hurst added, in part.
In the same interview with AV Club, Drake’s former co-stars Lauren Collins, Shane Kippel, and Stefan Brogen also detailed Drake’s challenges after his character became paralyzed.
Kippel, who played Spinner, said, “[There’s] the apprehension of having your character confined to a wheelchair, or even not really feeling like it’s right to be portraying someone who is confined to a wheelchair if you’re fully-abled yourself. But that pertains to [Aubrey] and how he felt with that.”
And Collins, who played Paige, noted that she believed Drake might have been grappling with the reality that he was “one of two Black characters on the show” and was the one who ended up “shot and in a wheelchair, which obviously is part of a much larger conversation.”
In a previous report earlier this year from Insider, the outlet spoke to the cast and showrunners, detailing that the series was almost cancelled after the ninth season.
And in another report from Page Six in June, an executive producer said that Drake needed to be convinced to do a rap scene on the show because he wanted to keep his music and acting career in separate lanes.
Indy100 reached out to representatives for Drake who declined to comment.