Jaleel White became a TV juggernaut in the 90’s as the break out star of “Family Matters”. The series, which followed a middle class black family in Chicago, Illinois was a staples at the time. His character Steve Urkle, who was only suppose to appear on one episode, became an instant fan favorite and carried the show into icon status in the process.
In the years since, White has done a lot of reflecting on the show and character. Recently talking with Fox News he expressed his gratitude for the role, “Oh, I love [Urkle]. You kidding me? I get nothing but the most amazing comments from flight attendants everywhere. So, I love him.”
This was a far cry from his comments back in the days. At the time the show wrapped in 1998, White couldn’t get further away from the character. “If you ever see me do [Urkle] again, take me out and put a b*llet in my head and put me out of my misery.” Ouch.
He shone more light on his initial detest for the role in a recent interview with Yahoo! entertainment. In it he discuss that despite being such a massive star, he saw a noticeable difference in how he was treated in favor of his white child star counterparts. Comparing his experience to that of Fred Savage, and exposing the Emmy’s for never inviting him to attend.
“It’s fair of me now to definitely say– You were made to feel African-American. Fred Savage [Wonder Years] was always invited to the Emmys; he was always treated like a darling during this time. I was never invited to the Emmys, even to present. I was pretty much told that I would be wasting my time to even submit myself for nomination.”
He elaborated more in a podcast episode of Ever After, where he spoke to Blossom and Big Bang Theory star Mayim Bialik about the stark differences of being a black child star versus a white one in the 90s.
“It was so normalized — you just shrugged and said, ‘Oh yeah, that’s for the white kids.’ When a Black person would win anything — never at the Emmys but at least on the Oscars side — if Denzel [Washington] would win or Whoopi [Goldberg] would win, those were ‘Pick up the phone and call the whole family’ moments.”