Duck is known for his scorching music career, as evidenced by his latest album, Certified Lover Boy, topping the Billboard 200 album chart this week.
But long before people associated “Hotline Bling” with the Canadian rapper, he was first acclaimed as Aubrey graham, his birth name, when he played Jimmy Brooks in the Canadian drama Degrassi: The Next Generation from 2001 to 2008.
Writer James hurst celebrated the show’s 20th anniversary in a recent high-profile interview with AV Club and revealed that Drake almost quit the show after his character, Jimmy, was paralyzed in a school shooting.
Hurst, who directed the show’s fifth and sixth seasons, says Drake’s camp didn’t like the idea of his character being relegated to a wheelchair and threatened with a strongly worded letter that he would resign “unless his wound is not healed, and he is out of the wheelchair.
Hurst set up a meeting with the young actor and said that while Drake was unaware of the rating, he asked why playing a disabled character was a problem. Hurst says the future Grammy winner told him, “All my friends in rap say I’m sweet because I’m in a wheelchair.”
Writer Degrassi hit back with, “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. “
“I was very passionate about it,” Hurst recalls. “I said, ‘Aubrey, there’s a kid in a wheelchair somewhere that’s completely ignored, who’s never on TV, who’s never portrayed. I need you to represent this person. You’re the coolest kid on the show, and you can tell it’s nothing wrong with being in a wheelchair. “
Drake did not participate in the interview and did not verify Hurst’s claim.
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