You may not know this, but Drake was actually an actor in a Canadian teenage show called Degrassi before breaking Billboard charts. Unfortunately, for his character, he was shot and paralyzed in season 4. 

Degrassi’s former cast and crew recently came together to talk about the show and reflect on some memories. All was well, until James Hurst, one of the show’s writers remembered that Drake apparently threatened to sue to have his character removed from the wheelchair.

“There was a letter from a law firm in Toronto, and it was from Aubrey [Drake],” the writer 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.’ And I said, ‘All right, I understand. But how do you feel about the wheelchair?’”

Drake told Hurst that he was afraid of looking soft and it was not a good look for his rap career, “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.’ He was like, ‘Yeah, yeah.’

Lauren Collins, another cast member, added, “I think (Aubrey) struggled, just physically with having to all of a sudden do everything confined to a chair. That was really hard for him, I definitely have a few memories of him toppling the chair over and falling off of makeshift ramps that they’d constructed for him.”

“[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.” Drake’s best friend in the show, Shane Kippel, said.

The issue was eventually resolved between Drake and Hurst, the writer added, “He was so nice and apologetic about everything. He instantly backed down…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.’”

The show eventually allowed Drake to gain some mobility by putting his character through surgery that allowed him to stand using crutches. What do you think of the possible reasons, is one more likely than the other, and are they justifiable when balanced against the idea of representation?