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Degrassi Writer Says Drake Almost Left the Show Unless His Character Got “Out of the Wheelchair”

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Drake‘s former Degrassi co-workers are weighing in on the performer’s star-making acting gig

In honor of Degrassi: The Next Generation celebrating the 20th anniversary of its Oct. 14, 2001 series premiere, a number of the show’s cast members and behind-the-scenes talent reminisced about its big moments in an oral history published by The A.V. Club on Thursday, Oct. 14. This included the season four twist involving Rick Murray (Ephraim Ellis) shooting Jimmy Brooks (Drake) and causing him to become paralyzed. 

In the piece, James Hurst, who wrote for the Canadian teen drama series, alleged that Drake, whose real name is Aubrey Graham, was adamant at one point about no longer wanting his character to use a wheelchair. 

“There was a letter from a law firm in Toronto, and it was from Aubrey,” James said. “It was an odd letter that said, ‘Aubrey Graham 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.’ He came in and was like, ‘What letter? I don’t know about that.'”

The writer continued, “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.’ 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.'”

According to James, Drake, who remained with the show until season eight, ultimately understood where the writing staff was coming from and had a change of heart.

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