Before Drake became a Grammy Award-Winning rapper and global superstar, he was a teen actor. Before the ‘God’s Plan’ act had even considered a music career, he first and foremost thought of himself as an actor. At the tender age of 14, the musician (real name Aubrey Graham) was cast for the Canadian teen drama Degrassi: The Next Generation.
Born and raised in Canada by his mother, Drake loved to make his friends and family laugh and quickly developed a love for acting. Speaking with the prestigious publication GQ in 2012, Graham talked about how he found himself in the world of acting.
Reflecting on his school years and his demeanour growing up, the rapper unveiled, “I was in class, and I used to always crack jokes in class. I was a good liar and a good talker. And this kid in my class was like, ‘Yo, my dad is an agent. You should go talk to him because you’re good and you make people laugh! I was slick, you know? When it comes to knowing what to say, to charm, I always had it.”
Unsurprisingly, Graham approached his friend’s father and swiftly landed the part of Jimmy Brooks on Degrassi. However, the Grammy award-winning icon almost lost the role that changed his life. Drake gained much recognition during his stint as an actor and was a mainstay on Canadian television for the best part of seven years. In his interview with GQ, the lyricist admitted during his time as Jimmy, he was earning in excess of $40,000 a year. As such, he already had a fair degree of renown when he began to pursue music in 2008. Graham’s celebrity provided a fantastic launchpad as he transitioned from acting to music. However, as mentioned above, the musician almost blew his audition.
In a 2014 interview with Jimmy Fallon on The Tonight Show, he explained how his audition was a make-or-break day for him, but he did something stupid. Detailing those 24 hours, Graham explained, “It was like a real pivotal day in my life because it was the first audition I went on, so that’s already a monumental thing. It was also the day that I got accepted by these like really cool Jewish kids at school, and they were finally like, ‘Yo, come over,’” he explained to Fallon.
However, knowing he had an audition later that day, the rapper made terrible choices while hanging out with his newfound clique. Recalling the incident, the Scorpion artist recounted, “I had this really tug of war moment where I actually did something that I probably shouldn’t have done that starts with a ‘W’ and ends with ‘eed,’” Drake continued. “That was my first time [smoking weed], and we did it out of a… starts with a ‘B’ ends with a ‘ong.’”
According to the Young Money act, the weed made him paranoid, and he was panicking during the audition. Remembering his sentiments after the audition, Drake humorously recalled, “I thought I’d just completely ruined my life,” he said. “I started splashing water on my face constantly; it was like a Clearasil commercial!” Needless to say, the casting directors were none the wiser and were impressed by Graham casting him in a lead role. You can watch a teenage interview with Drake filmed when he was still part of the Degrassi cast.