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The Real Reason Jaleel White Auditioned for ‘Family Matters’ Might Surprise You: ‘I Really Wanted This Job’:

Jaleel White is most famously known for his character Steve Urkle on the ’90s sitcom “Family Matters.”

But what people may not know about White is his reason for auditioning for the popular role was just so he could have some cash in his pocket. In a recent interview on “The Drew Barrymore Show,” White said, “I was just a kid trying to make money and go to college.”

Jaleel White explains why he auditioned for “Family Matters.” (Photo: @jaleelwhite/Instagram)

He further explained, “It was just me and three other boys, and I really wanted this job because I wanted a Sega Genesis and my parents would let me go to Toys R Us and get whatever I wanted if I got this job,” he said, speaking of the video game console Sega Genesis. The now 44-year-old was just 13 when he got the gig and was one of the youngest actors on that set.

Jokingly tooting his own horn a bit, White explained that it was because of his character that “the show was saved.” He said during the first live taping of the show a fraternity sat in the audience to watch the show and it was their attendance that helped White secure the job.

“I’ll never forget these guys,” he said. “I always wished I could find them and thank them because they would chant, ‘We want the nerd’ in all the scenes that I wasn’t in during the live taping.”

Despite this being the role that he’s widely known for, this was actually not White’s first gig. His first known gig was as a part of “Charlie and Co,” which starred Flip Wilson, Gladys Knight and Kristoff St. John. The series, which some say resembled “The Cosby Show” in that the show’s family portrayed a positive image of the Black family only lasted for one season.

At that time, White was only nine years old and, again, was one of the youngest cast members. He played Robert Richmond, who was the youngest Richmond out of his other siblings.

The show summary on IMDb reads, “Considered by many to be CBS’ answer to the “Cosby Show”, Charlie & Co. followed the Richmond family, headed by dad Charlie, played by funny-man Flip Wilson, a blue-collar worker and his wife, Diana, played by Gladys Knight.”

White had much better luck with kicking off his career on “Family Matters,” which lasted for nine years. The final episode aired in 1998.

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