‘Degrassi’ Writer Claims Drake’s Team Threatened Legal Action If His Character Wasn’t Taken Out Of Wheelchair

Photo: Kathy Hutchins / Shutterstock / Youtube
Drake, Jimmy Brooks

James Hurst, a writer on the hit show ‘Degrassi,’ has made some surprising revelations about rapper Drake's time on the show — and one issue he had with his character.

Hurst said in an interview with The AV Club for the show’s 20th anniversary that Drake tried to leave the show before season six.

Why you might ask? Because he was tired of his character being in a wheelchair. 

Drake's team allegedly threatened legal action against 'Degrassi.'

“There was a letter from a law firm in Toronto, and it was from Aubrey,” Hurst said. “It was an odd letter that said, ‘Aubrey Graham will not return to Degrassi Season 6 as Jimmy Brooks unless his injury is healed, and he’s out of the wheelchair.’”

Drake, who's real name is Aubrey Graham, starred in the first seven seasons of ‘Degrassi: The Next Generation’ as Jimmy Brooks, a basketball player who became paralyzed after being shot in a school shooting in Season 4.

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Hurst continued by saying that Drake didn’t know anything about the letter, but admitted to not wanting to play Jimmy Brooks anymore if he’d have to be in a wheelchair.

“He came in and was like, 'What letter? I don't know about that.' And I said, 'All right, I understand. But how do you feel about the wheelchair?'

"He's like, 'All my friends in the rap game say I'm soft because I'm in a wheelchair,’” Hurst revealed. “And I said, 'Well, tell your friends in the rap game that you got shot. How much harder can you get? You got shot, and you're in a wheelchair.' He was like, 'Yeah, yeah.’”

Hurst went on to tell Drake of the significance of Jimmy’s evolution, and the importance of how his character being in a wheelchair could positively impact younger viewers.

"He was so nice and apologetic about everything,” Hurst said. “He 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.' I need you to represent this person. You're the coolest kid on the show, and you can say there's nothing wrong with being in a wheelchair.”

Apparently that was enough to convince Drake to stay on the show and continue playing Jimmy Brooks. 

Drake was allegedly fired from 'Degrassi' over his rap career. 

Drake ended up staying on the show until the eighth season in 2009, with the Canadian-born rapper revealing in 2015 that he was allegedly kicked off of the show after executives learned he had been doing music on the side.

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“Back then, I’d spend a full day on set and then go to the studio to make music until 4 or 5 a.m.,” Drake explained in an interview with W Magazine.

“I’d sleep in my dressing room and then be in front of the cameras again by 9 a.m. Eventually, they realized I was juggling two professions and told me I had to choose. I chose this life.”

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Drake’s claim of being kicked off was eventually refuted by ‘Degrassi’ co-creator and executive producer Linda Schyler, who said that the crew on the show were fully aware of Drake’s musical aspirations and even encouraged him.

“From my point of view, the timing was absolutely brilliant because we knew Aubrey was juggling his music,” Schyler said in an interview with BuzzFeed. “Not only did we know it, we helped him with it. His character had run its course, so we were nothing but supportive.”

It was even revealed that producers had to persuade Drake to rap on the show, with the ‘Take Care’ rapper wanting to keep his acting and music career separate at the time.

By 2009, after leaving ‘Degrassi’ Drake had founded his own record label, October’s Very Own, and released his third mixtape ‘So Far Gone.’ 

Fans of the show were even graced with a ‘Degrassi’ reunion in Drake’s music video for ‘I’m Upset’ in 2018, which featured familiar faces from the earlier seasons and showed that Drake would never be ashamed of his first opportunity in the entertainment industry.

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Nia Tipton is a writer living in Brooklyn. She covers pop culture, social justice issues, and trending topics. Follow her on Instagram.