‘Family Matters’ Star Jo Marie Payton Sets the Record Straight on Alleged Beef with Co-Star Jaleel White One Year After Claiming He Wanted to ‘Fight’ Her on Set

The cast of “Family Matters,” one of the longest-running and most beloved sitcoms of the 1990s, recently expressed their love for their former co-star Jaleel White despite past disagreements behind the scenes.

During an appearance at 90s Con last month in Tampa, Florida, Reginald VelJohnson, 71, Jo Marie Payton, 73, and Kellie Williams, 47, sent kind words to their co-star, who was not in attendance. The three played Carl, Harriette, and Laura Winslow, respectively.

VelJohnson said he misses White and was sorry he wasn’t there, while Williams expressed that she loves his “crazy butt” during a red-carpet interview with People. Yet, many particularly wanted to hear from Payton due to continued accusations of a “beef” that exists between her and White.

"Family Matters" star Jo Marie Payton sets the record straight regarding rumors of a beef with co-star Jaleel White.
“Family Matters” star Jo Marie Payton sets the record straight regarding rumors of a beef with co-star Jaleel White. (Photos: @jomariepayton/Instagram; @jaleelwhite/Instagram)

“If you were here and I could hug you, I would. Because I don’t hold anything; and I don’t want you to hold anything either. I still love you and I still see you as that little boy that you were when you were 12 years old and you came to this show. I’m still the same Jo Marie,” she added.

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Payton doubled down on her sentiment in an exclusive interview with Atlanta Black Star when asked if there was anything she’d like to add or further clarify about all of the speculation surrounding her and White’s relationship.

“I don’t like to rehash things. Things happen and we move on. Like I said on that panel, if I saw Jaleel today and he said, ‘Hey, Jo Marie,’ I’d give him a hug. There are no hard feelings,” she confirmed. “I live to back up what I say. I don’t bite my tongue. I said what I said, and I meant it.”

The cast members’ remarks come over two years after White, who played the iconic role of Steve Urkel, the family’s lovesick, nerdy next-door neighbor, revealed in 2021 that he “was not very well welcomed to the cast at all.” He added, “They know what it is.”

The following year, during a separate interview, Payton said White “wanted to physically fight” her after she opposed doing a scene in which he portrayed Urkel’s “gangster” cousin OGD, which stood for Original Gangsta Dawg.

“I said we can’t do that, standards and practices will not let that pass, it’s not gonna happen. He wanted to do it anyway. … He was so mad, he started kicking and screaming and stuff,” Payton recalled during a chat with “Entertainment Tonight.”

“He said something about, ‘She must want to melee.’ I said, ‘What’s a melee?’ He said, ‘a fight.’ I turned around — if he wanna fight, I would,” she continued, noting that another co-star, Darius McCrary, had to grab her. “I was gonna whip his behind.”

In hindsight, Payton said she realized White was “just a kid” and some of the adults let him “run wild” and do whatever he wanted, despite how it may have hurt others.

In her interview with Atlanta Black Star, Payton admitted she was shocked at how many views her previous remarks received but credited its popularity to people readily consuming negative content.

“When I did make that statement on ‘ET,’ I was so surprised that people reacted the way they did. … It got over a half a million views because people like drama and they’re messy,” she said.

Though Payton has said in the past she’s open to a reboot, she clarified that she’s fine whether one happens or not.

“We always say, ‘never say never,’ and it proves to be true. Sometimes there’s a way of working things out. It’s called show business, and they know how to do all that stuff if they want to,” she told Atlanta Black Star. “‘Sex and the City’ said they’d never work together again, and look at them.”

However, the actress cautioned against doing a reboot just for the sake of doing one, adding that she’s seen some things on television that are “pure trash” but appreciates that “somebody likes it.”

“To tell you the truth, I don’t care if they ever do another reboot. The show did well and it’s still doing well in streaming and syndication. We know because we see the royalties. Sometimes you can’t go back and reinvent the wheel,” Payton added. “Wherever I am, whatever season I’m in, if I never work another day in my life, I’m still good.”

In August 2017, White stated that he would leave the decision for a reboot up to Warner Bros. He thought it would be a challenge to do a live-action reboot since so much time had passed, but he then floated the idea of an animated iteration.

Regarding if there’s still any hard feelings with Payton, representatives for White didn’t immediately respond to Atlanta Black Star’s request for comment.

However, “The Proud Family” star said that there are some things she’s intentionally keeping to herself, which she plans to discuss on her own platform in the future.

“I’m planning on doing a podcast myself that will be no holds barred, so I am holding some things close to my chest. When I’m ready to talk more about it, I’ll let you know,” Payton said.

According to show creators William Bickley and Michael Warren, “Family Matters” was conceived after ABC said they wanted to feature a Black family. Payton was already portraying Harriette on the popular show “Perfect Strangers,” so the duo created a spinoff that became its own cultural phenomenon.

“Family Matters” ran for nearly a decade from 1989 to 1998.

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