Drake allegedly almost left the show, Degrassi: The Next Generation, after learning that his character, Jimmy, would be confined to a wheelchair, according to his castmates and several of the writers on the show who spoke with The A.V. Club for a new interview on the show’s 20th anniversary.
In season four, Drake’s character was shot by another student at the high school and forced to spend the next several seasons in a wheelchair.
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Actor Lauren Collins, who played Paige on the show, says that Drake took the massive change in his role quite hard: “I don’t want to speak for anyone, but I think [Aubrey] probably struggled with the idea that he was one of two Black characters on the show, and that he was the one who was winding up shot and in a wheelchair, which obviously is part of a much larger conversation.”
According to writer James Hurst, Drake’s legal team went as far as sending a letter demanding that his character be healed from the injury. Hurst explains to The A.V. Club:
There was a letter from a law firm in Toronto, and it was from Aubrey. 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?” 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.” He was so nice and apologetic about everything. 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.”[Via]