Millions of people know Drake as a dominant force in music and pop culture. But before he was one of rap’s biggest stars, Millennials and Gen Z knew him as Jimmy Brooks during his seven-season stint on Degrassi: The Next Generation. While on the classic teen drama, his character went through multiple changes, including being paralyzed after a school shooting. While many praised Drake’s acting after the turn, the rap superstar didn’t see it that way. The situation grew so problematic for him that he almost took legal action against the series, according to a Degrassi: TNG writer.
Jimmy Brooks becoming wheelchair-bound was the result of the Season 4 two-parter “Time Stands Still,” which saw bullied student Rick Murray shoot him in the back. While the episodes were praised, Jimmy’s disposition started to affect Drake’s burgeoning rap career in later seasons. So, it led him to take an extreme measure that didn’t go over well. Veteran Degrassi: TNG writer James Hurst revealed to A.V. Club how a legal letter from the rap superstar (whose full name is Aubrey Drake Graham) inspired a pivotal conversation about his character’s importance.
At least, James Hurst was able to avoid a crisis for the series. He was able to bring in the “street credit” element for Drake to embrace his character’s circumstances. Once you think about it, what’s Degrassi: The Next Generation without Jimmy Brooks? Drake’s struggle playing Jimmy Brooks wasn’t a private one as his cast members took notice. Former castmate Lauren Collins may not have witnessed Drake’s image problem but did see his physical struggle. The Degrassi: TNG alum recalled the rap superstar struggling with his wheelchair.
Knowing Drake’s behind-the-scenes struggle put his time on Degrassi: The Next Generation in a better perspective. Playing Jimmy in his new circumstances after the shooting would take a toll on a performer. This wasn’t the first time Drake’s issues with the cult classic have been addressed. While the rap superstar eventually moved on, he has embraced Degrassi: TNG’s impact on his career in recent years. Maybe all this Degrassi talk will lead to a reunion or possible reboot in the future. In the meantime, you can watch the entire series on Prime Video.
A boy from Greenwood, South Carolina. CinemaBlend Contributor. An animation enthusiast (anime, US and international films, television). Freelance writer, designer and artist. Lover of music (US and international).
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