Drake and Degrassi creator Linda Schuyler reunite at a premiere screening in August, 2015.

Drake and Degrassi creator Linda Schuyler reunite at a premiere screening in August, 2015.

The creator of the long-running franchise released a statement in response to Drake’s comment in a recent interview.

I’m hoping there was just some miscommunication here, because if that’s the perception nothing could make me sadder,” Schyuler told BuzzFeed Canada.

This comes after Drake’s interview with W Magazine, released this week, where the rapper referred to juggling Degrassi and making music:

That was part of the reason I was kicked off the show,” he said. “Back then, I’d spend a full day on set and then go to the studio to make music until 4 or 5 a.m. I’d sleep in my dressing room and then be in front of the cameras again by 9 a.m. Eventually, they realized I was juggling two professions and told me I had to choose. I chose this life.”

Schuyler responded, telling BuzzFeed Canada the show worked hard to accommodate Drake’s music.

From my point of view, the timing was absolutely brilliant because we knew Aubrey was juggling his music,” Shcuyler said. “Not only did we know it, we helped him with it. His character had run its course, so we were nothing but supportive.”

Since nearly the beginning of TNG, the show has deliberately incorporated actors’ real-life talents into the show. They did so with Drake by allowing Jimmy to rap, and it was so awesome that we can never forgive Ashley Kerwin for what she did to Jimmy in season 7:

Drake saying he didn’t leave Degrassi on his own terms is nothing new…in a 2009 interview with Vibe:

VIBE: You were on Degrassi for eight years. It must have taken a lot to leave that comfort zone. When did you know it was time to go?

DRAKE: I can’t really say I left that show. One day we came in and all the names were just changed on the dressing rooms. Everyone got cut. We go upstairs and it’s like, “Who are all these people auditioning in the front?” They owe us a lot of money. The amount of loyalty, the years we put in with these people…they did us foul. As far as the producers go, I don’t talk to anybody over there.

The most disturbing part of this current drama in my opinion is the media running away with that line from the interview, blasting a sensational headline solely for clickbait (a similar action 99% of the media outlets, who are clueless about Degrassi to begin with, pulled when the show was yanked from TeenNick and MTV earlier this summer). Linda was basically forced into giving a statement, because to the generic reader the media headlines imply Drake getting kicked off Degrassi was done with malicious intent.

Maybe Drake took the news very personally; maybe Degrassi didn’t handle phasing out the actors back then as well as they should’ve.  I’m not gonna pretend to know, but it wouldn’t be surprising if the reality of the situation lies somewhere in the middle of what both parties have said.  However, if you’ve watched Degrassi beyond the graduation of the TNG seniors at the end of season 5, you know the show has made it a habit to intentionally write main characters out of the show.  Whether it’s a graduation, someone like KC leaving a few seasons before graduation or Eli staying a few seasons after, we’ve now reached the point where it’s a given that every character on Degrassi has a shelf life.  It’s not like they singled out Drake to punish him for daring to do something other than play “Wheelchair Jimmy,” and his butt would’ve gone right out the door with the remaining original TNG cast members by the end of season 9 regardless.

And it ended up working out for Drake anyway, because look where that door closing has lead him while one of the most-important parts of that interview goes ignored.  “I chose this life,” he said.

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Posted by Kary

14 Comments

  1. Kary,

    My only problem with your reasoning in this case is that when they were trying to get rid of Drake, they didn’t know at the time that phasing out characters would become the norm. They demoted the actor after season 7 and apparently it wasn’t in the most professional manner if that’s how Drake interprets it. Shane Kippel, Miriam McDonald, Cassie Steele, Sarah Barrable were all brought back as regulars after season 7. Jake Goldsbie chose to leave the show. From everything that’s been said, Drake had no intention of leaving but they gave him the shaft. I have to go with Aubrey in this case, if he was lying he could be sued for defamation which hasn’t happened yet, only rebuttals so far.

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    1. I’m probably looking at that part of it from too much of a hindsight perspective in that case. Excluding Degrassi Goes Hollywood, they took out nearly all of the “senior” TNG characters by the end of season 7, so I’m not sure why they even kept Jimmy around for season 8. Shane could be kept b/c of Spinner’s relationship with Jane. Miriam, Cassie and Sarah were conveniently grouped together for another run at the college plots. That left Jimmy in the awful position of being on an island in the Degrassi universe, and if you aren’t in a relationship with a main character or aren’t connected to any of the main groups on the show, you’re screwed.

      I don’t think the show was like “Screw this guy we’ve gotta get him out of here,” which article headlines over the past several days have unintentionally implied (and that’s what I’m primarily annoyed about). But there’s also no reason to believe Drake’s just making stuff up either. Working in media I know how sketchy dismissals can be, so I can only imagine how absurd some of them are at that level.

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    2. Drake wanting to leave or not doesn’t change how many awkward hoops the first College plot (S6-S7) caused. Emma, Manny, and Liberty might as well have been guest stars in S8-9. The only character who could remain in some way relevant and connected to plots post-grad was Spinner. Because he was “The Dot Guy” and as we all know the Dot is a part of the school.

      In order for Jimmy to stay involved they would have had to, haphazardly, write a bunch of connections between him and either new characters, or the characters remaining. Because other than Spinner he really wasn’t staying connected to anyone left. He wasn’t heavily connected to the Emma/Manny/Liberty plots.

      I mean, if you want, I am sure we could have redone DTM so Emma married Jimmy instead. Is that what you want?

      You can want to keep an actor, but if your writers can’t work them into the plot… they don’t stay. Because the plot should matter more than any one person. Especially on a show like Degrassi.

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    3. Except Drake also came back after being written off… which is weird if they screwed him over so badly and still owe him “a lot of money”. Which is why I call bullshit. Yeah the actors from the TNG era didn’t go in knowing they would be phased out after time like the cast now did, so get why they would be dissapointed or upset then. But almost all of them came back for at least a camero, including Drake. So hard to believe it was done that poorly and on that bad of terms.

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      1. “Except Drake also came back after being written off… which is weird if they screwed him over so badly and still owe him “a lot of money”. Which is why I call bullshit.”

        When did he leave and come back? Maybe he’s referring to getting kicked off after coming back.

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  2. Whatever happened, and it’s probably a fine situation now, but he is degrassi ‘s main and or only real huge celebrity that has an association with the show so any press he can give degrassi would be huge for them. They oughta do everything they can to formalize some marketing arrangement with him and hope that he’ll do it for cheap, although if stohn is giving away a million dollars maybe he can pay drake more by himself.

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    1. I seriously doubt he would take any offer to work with them even if they made it. Not like he needs the money and has clearly been talking shit about them whenever they come up because he knows being “wheelchair jimmy on a kids show” kills some of his “cred”.

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  3. I understand why he was upset, but from a character standpoint, it could have been much worse. At least Jimmy’s character had some sort of ending. That’s better than a lot of characters got. He wasn’t blackholed. His character wasn’t completely destroyed after years of development like Paige’s was. His final appearance wasn’t a two second cameo after a season-long disappearance and zero closure like Liberty’s was. He wasn’t randomly paired off with a character he barely interacted with just because the writers couldn’t think of a realistic exit like Spemma. Graduating, going to school in New York, proposing to his girlfriend, and getting stem cell surgery is a pretty sweet deal on this show.

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    1. I forgot to add that at least they didn’t completely disrespect his character and use a fake Jimmy at Spemma’s wedding. Poor Toby.

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  4. his reasons he gave for leaving have always seemed like bullshit. They just took their names off the door and sent them packing with no warning and supposedly owe them a lot of money (I know they reportedly screwed some over like that in the original show when the actors weren’t in the actors union, but no way they would get away with that now). Yet despite this almost everyone out of the show at that time INCLUDING HIM came back? Yeah, pull the other one.

    My opinion, he knows having been on the show kills some of his supposed “cred” so he would rather it look like he got in some fight over it like a bad ass. It is ridiculous and I do not buy it for a second. And frankly, it is a shitty way for him to treat the people who gave him his big break, not to mention a very well paying job at an age when most of the people his age were working for minimum wage. I lost a lot of respect for him with the way he continues to trash the show with what is clearly a mass over exaggeration if not a flat out lie.

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    1. If you look at the press kit from Season 8 that include descriptions of the characters, Jimmy was included (Paige, Ellie, and Marco weren’t). It looked like they were going to give him a plot that season. It makes me wonder.

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      1. pocksuppet, any chance you know where these press descriptions can be found?

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  5. @Superman After much searching, I found them here: http://www.fanforum.com/f15/degrassi-s-s-48-because-new-season-new-characters-its-almost-like-new-show-62856853/

    Here’s Jimmy’s Season 8 description for those of you who don’t want to read the entire post:

    • Jimmy Brooks – Hudson University (19-years-old) – Jimmy’s finally in a good place. He’s forgiven Spinner and has his best friend back. Jimmy’s really come into his own and moving on with his life. Now that he’s put aside his anger over the shooting, his future is bright. He is going to work at walking again and nothing will keep him and Trina apart. He has his eye on the prize. (CTV Media)

    That makes me think that they did have plans for Jimmy at first.

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  6. I’m always inclined to take the side of the actor in these cases. They usually have no reason to lie on the producers. Especially if they’ve become successful like Drake has. Besides, it’s not as if he said they were malicious. He believes that they thought that his juggling two different careers would be a distraction and maybe it was. He said it himself that he was working until the wee hours of the morning and started sleeping in his dressing room.

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