So, How Serious Is Drake About This Whole Executive Producer Thing?
When the headlines first came rolling in—Drake to Executive Produce New HBO Series ‘Euphoria’; Zendaya Stars In HBO Euphoria, Executive Producer Drake; Drake Will Produce Israeli HBO Teen Series ‘Euphoria’—I was nonplussed. When had the actor-rapper-songwriter-record-producer decided to expand his resume to include executive producer? Why this particular project? Why television? I IM’d my colleague Greg to ask if I was the only one surprised by the news and he responded thusly:
“In a sense, no you aren’t the only one. At first I was like, yeah that’s random. But then I thought about it and it kind of makes a lot of sense.
1) Drake started out in TV.
2) Drake is half-Jewish, so the Israeli thing makes sense.
3) The term executive producer is so broad that it covers everything from ‘just writing checks’ to showrunning. I imagine that Drake is closer to the money side, with some input about direction and aesthetic so he feels important.”
Alright, that all makes sense. But a short Internet deep dive later, I learned that Drake’s involvement was sure to be far more than cursory (read: way more than just writing checks). He’d apparently already expressed a deep interest in film and television production, and this HBO series wasn’t his first step toward it. Last fall, following the Toronto International Film Festival, he spoke to the Hollywood Reporter about his dreams for returning to the world of film and television, albeit in a different capacity than he’s dabbled in before (as is well known, he got his start in entertainment as a teen actor on Degrassi: The Next Generation).
“I’m sure I’ll stop [making music] one day,” he said in the interview. “When it starts to feel like I’m making it up. Hopefully I’ll catch it before I ever get there, right? But right now it feels like we just started, so I don’t plan on stopping anytime soon. But I do plan on expanding — to take six months or a year to myself and do some great films. Music’s always there.”
Turns out, those weren’t the vague, ambitious musings of a performer who idly fancied stepping out of his lane for a change. At the time of the interview, he was fresh off his first experience as executive producer, on the film The Carter Effect, a documentary about basketball player Vince Carter that premiered at TIFF last September. Since then, he and his producing partner Adel ‘Future’ Nur have struck a deal with Netflix for a revival of British crime drama Top Boy, which Drake stumbled upon on YouTube a few years ago and instantly fell in love with. And yesterday, he announced his involvement with HBO’s upcoming series Euphoria. Based on an Israeli television show, the series follows a group of high school students exploring sex, drugs, social media and more, and is set to star Zendaya.
So yeah, clearly he is serious about this whole thing, and we’re looking forward to seeing where he takes this nascent interest next. Given his love for complex, emotional works that explore the human condition, like indie film The Florida Project (“one of my favourite things I’d seen in a long time,” he told THR) and Netflix’s Ozark (what draws him towards the show is “just the family dynamic. The arguments. The love. The struggles. I really relate to how accurate it is”), we can expect some pretty interesting, off-the-beaten-path announcements in the coming months.