Jaleel White‘s iconic “Family Matters” character Steve Urkel helped make the ABC sitcom a hit, and carve its mark among great Black television shows past, but, according to the actor, he didn’t immediately feel the neighborly love after joining the cast.
The “Family Matters” star is stepping back into the spotlight for an episode of TV One’s “Unsung” and, judging from the trailer, he’s set to spill all of the behind-the-scenes tea from the series, which aired on the ABC from its 1989 debut through 1997 before moving to CBS for its final ninth season.
In a promotional teaser released ahead of the episode’s premiere, White reveals that he “was not welcomed to the cast at all,” when his intended guest role debuted during the first season’s fourth episode. The recurring cute and clumsy nerd-next-door character quickly became a fan favorite, leading to White’s season 2 promotion to a main cast member.
“I was not welcomed to the cast at all,” he says in the “Unsung” clip. “They know what it was … I didn’t think anything of it being cast to be on Family Matters,’ because it was supposed to only be a guest spot, one and done.”
As the character Urkel’s popularity grew, the cast fell into their more familial stride and the show began centering more around White’s character, which led to him portraying more roles including Urkel’s alter ego the cool, suave Stefan Urquelle. “I was as caught off-guard by the phenomenon of Stefan as anyone,” White admitted. “All of America thought I was this way.”
White has continued his acting career since his Urkel days, appearing in the film adaptation of “Dreamgirls,” and TV shows “The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air,” “The Game,” and “Atlanta,” among others. More recently, he’s been flexing his entrepreneurial muscles with the promotion of his Purple Urkle cannabis strain, which is part of his “ItsPurpl” line of marijuana products. The strain has been endorsed by celebs including Snoop Dogg, Mike Tyson, and his former TV best friend Eddie Winslow himself, actor Darius McCrary.
White’s full “Uncensored” episode aired Sunday, May 9, on TV One.