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‘It Got to Be a Little Resentful’: ‘Family Matters’ Star Jo Marie Payton Addresses Former Co-Star Jaleel White’s Claims That Cast Didn’t Welcome Him to Series With Open Arms

Jaleel White may have found himself asking “Did I do that?” after ruffling the feathers of some of his former “Family Matters” co-stars when he unexpectedly became a more central member of the cast due to the popularity of his character Steve Urkel.

Jaleel White and Jo Marie Payton. (Photos: @jaleelwhite/Instagram, @jomariepayton/Instagram)

Cast members from various shows that were part of ABC’s hit T.G.I.F. lineup, which originally ran on the network from 1989 to 2000, stopped by “E! True Hollywood Story” to reminisce during the Nov. 22 episode. White and Jo Marie Payton represented for the “Family Matters” cast and recalled the loop that everyone was thrown for when White’s guest arc as loveably nerdy neighbor Steve Urkel was such a success that the show’s entire concept was reworked to keep him at the center of the action.

“My arrival to ‘Family Matters’ was a rocky start at the beginning,” White stated. “[The cast] kind of had to accept that I was there. That was a process.”

Payton, who portrayed Urkel’s surrogate mom and next-door neighbor Harriet Winslow, agreed there was definitely some resentment following news that the show’s “dynamic was going to change” after Urkel’s introduction midway through the first season.

“When he came on, [producers] told us the dynamic was going to change, the shows were going to be about him, and we said, ‘OK.’ We weren’t happy about it,” Payton admitted. “I think along the way it got to be a little resentful, but it was just an adjustment that we had to make.”

White even claimed to remember a moment when one of the sitcom’s youngest cast members expressed frustration toward him for stealing her shine. “I remember Jamie saying something to me on set like, ‘Well, my mom said I was supposed to get my storyline before you,'” he recounted of Jaimee Foxworth, who played the youngest Winslow daughter, Judy.

Eventually, however, the show’s success continued to rise after taking an Urkel-centric turn, and the cast bonded. “Over time, figuring out that ‘if you do this and I do that, we win,’ that’s ultimately what evolved,” White said.

(From left) The “Family Matters” boys are all grown up. Darius McCrary, Bryton James, and Jaleel White. @jaleelwhite/Instagram

The Purple Urkle creator previously spoke about his rough transition into the “Family Matters” family during an episode of BET’s “Unsung” in May.

“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.”


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