Jaleel White

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Jaleel White
JaleelWhiteDec10.jpg
Jaleel White in December 2010.
Born Jaleel Ahmad White
(1976-11-27) November 27, 1976 (age 38)
Culver City, California, US
Nationality American
Alma mater UCLA (B.A.)
Occupation Actor, screenwriter film and television producer
Years active 1984–present
Children 1
Website
www.jaleelwhite.com

Jaleel Ahmad White (born November 27, 1976)[1] is an American television and film actor, producer and screenwriter. In 1989, he was cast in the role of Steve Urkel on the sitcom Family Matters.[2] The character, which was originally intended to be a one-time guest appearance, was an instant hit with audiences and White became a regular cast member. The series aired for a total of nine seasons, from 1989 to 1997 on ABC, and from 1997 to 1998 on CBS. Aside from this character, White is also known as the voice of Sonic the Hedgehog in the animated series Adventures of Sonic the Hedgehog, Sonic the Hedgehog and Sonic Underground.

After Family Matters ended, White starred in the UPN series Grown Ups from 1999 to 2000. He later attended UCLA where he graduated with a degree in film and television in 2001. He has continued his acting career with roles in Dreamgirls (2006), and guest stints on Boston Legal, House, and Psych. In March 2012, White appeared as a contestant in season 14 of Dancing with the Stars and was voted off in May 2012. In April 2012, White hosted the game show Total Blackout, which airs on the Syfy channel.

Early life[edit]

White was born in Culver City, California, the only child of Dr. Michael White, a dentist, and Gail, a homemaker who later became his manager. White attended South Pasadena High School and graduated from UCLA in 2001.[3] On the advice of his preschool teacher, White began acting as a child. He got his start on TV commercials at age three. One of White's notable commercial appearances was for Jell-O pudding pops alongside Bill Cosby.[4][5][1]

Career[edit]

After starting his career at the age of three, White's first television role was a guest stint on The Jeffersons, in 1984. He later auditioned for the role of Rudy Huxtable on The Cosby Show. According to White, he was cast in the role (the character was originally intended to be male) but was replaced by Keshia Knight Pulliam when Bill Cosby decided to mirror his television family after his real life family.[6] The following year, he was cast as the son of Flip Wilson and Gladys Knight on the CBS sitcom Charlie and Company. The series was intended to be CBS' answer to the highly rating Cosby Show which debuted on NBC in 1984.[7] Unlike The Cosby Show, Charlie and Company did not catch on with audiences and was canceled in May 1986.[8] In 1987, he appeared in the pilot episode for Good Morning, Miss Bliss, and had a guest role on Mr. Belvedere. In 1988, White had a supporting role in Cadets, a sitcom starring Soleil Moon Frye. The pilot episode aired during a preview special on September 25, 1988 on ABC. The series, however, was not picked up by the network.[9]

In September 1990, White had a role in the NBC television movie Camp Cucamonga. The film features an ensemble cast including Sherman Hemsley, Jennifer Aniston, and Brian Robbins. Several other child actors of the era including Chad Allen, Candace Cameron, Danica McKellar, Josh Saviano, and Breckin Meyer also appear.

Family Matters[edit]

At the age of 12, White originated his most famous role, Steve Urkel, on Family Matters. The role was initially conceived as a one-time guest appearance, but the character proved to be popular and White was given a full-time starring role. He also played several other members of the Urkel family, including his alter ego Stefan Urquelle and Myrtle Urkel. During the height of Family Matters' popularity, the character of Urkel was marketed with breakfast cereal (Urkel-Os) and an Urkel doll.[10] In addition to starring in the series, White also wrote several episodes, including one, at age 19, that was the series' highest rated for that year.[11] The series was a staple of ABC's TGIF lineup and would go to become one of the longest-running sitcoms with a predominately African American cast in television history.[12]

By the time the series ended in 1998, White, who was then 22 years old, had grown tired of the role. Shortly after the series' cancellation, he stated in a 1999 interview, "If you ever see me do that character again, take me out and put a bullet in my head and put me out of my misery."[13] Due to the character's popularity, White was so tightly defined by his Urkel character that he encountered difficulty finding other roles.[13]

In later years, White came to terms with the character. In a 2011 interview with Vanity Fair, he addressed the 1999 "bullet" quote stating, "It’s one of those things that it’s very unfortunate how quotes are taken out of context. I remember that interview very vividly. I loved playing those characters [...] But the fact is that I was maturing. [...] To be honest, I was retarding my own growth as a man in order to maintain the authenticity to what I thought that character should be." When asked if he would ever reprise the Steve Urkel role, White said, "I’ll always say never say never; I’m a pretty creative person. I can’t envision how I could do it in a way that would be irreverent and fun for both me and the viewing audience..."[6]

Post-Family Matters career[edit]

In 1999, White returned to television in the UPN sitcom Grown Ups. The series was based around White as a young man striking out into adulthood. He also co-produced and wrote some episodes for the show, in which he starred as "J", a college graduate struggling to establish his role in life as an adult. The pilot episode featured another former child actor, Soleil Moon Frye, known for her role as Punky Brewster, as the girl whom he chose as a roommate.[14] The show received poor reviews from critics but debuted in second place in the ratings upon its premiere.[15] However, ratings soon dropped and UPN canceled the series after one season.[16]

White's acting roles have not been restricted to sitcoms, but he has done voice work for several animated projects including the 1998 film Quest for Camelot.[17] In 1999, he provided the voice for a teenaged Martin Luther King, Jr., in Our Friend, Martin.

He was also the voice of the famed video game character Sonic the Hedgehog in all of the American produced animated series: Adventures of Sonic the Hedgehog,[17] Sonic the Hedgehog, and Sonic Underground and the Christmas special. White also voiced Sonic's brother and sister, Manic and Sonia.[18]

In 2001, White graduated from UCLA with a degree in film and television.[19] He has continued acting and has had small parts in the films Big Fat Liar (in a cameo role) and Dreamgirls, and was featured as the lead role in the direct-to-DVD comedy Who Made the Potatoe Salad? in 2006.[20] In 2007, he guest-starred on the CW series The Game, followed by a role as a law school graduate interviewing for a job at Crane, Poole and Schmidt in the ABC legal drama Boston Legal.[20]

In June 2009, White began appearing in the web series Road to the Altar.[21] In the series, White stars as Simon, a 30-something black man marrying a young Jewish girl named Rochelle. In September 2009, White guest starred on the USA Network series Psych, as an estranged college singing buddy of the character Gus.

In June 2010, White starred in the web series Fake It Till You Make It. He also serves as writer and producer of the series. The series, which premiered on Hulu, follows the exploits of former child star Reggie Cullen (White) turned image consultant and his three protégés as they hustle to navigate Hollywood.[22] In March 2011, White guest starred on the TBS sitcom Are We There Yet?, which reunited him with fellow Family Matters cast member Telma Hopkins. Later that same year, White appeared as the star in Cee-Lo Green's music video for his song "Cry Baby".[23]

In October 2011, White appeared in the season 8 premiere of House, titled "Twenty Vicodin", where he appears as a well-connected inmate, occasionally helping Hugh Laurie's character Gregory House to sneak contraband into the prison.[24] In April 2012, White began hosting the Syfy game show Total Blackout.[25]

Dancing with the Stars[edit]

In March 2012, White began competing on the season 14 of Dancing with the Stars. He was partnered with two-time dance champion Kym Johnson.[26] In the opening night's performance, White and Johnson danced the Foxtrot to "The Way You Look Tonight". They earned a total of 26 points out of 30.[27] White was voted off the series in May 2012.[28]

Personal life[edit]

White has one daughter, Samaya (born in 2009), from a previous relationship.[29][30]

Filmography[edit]

Film
Year Title Role Notes
1998 Quest for Camelot Bladebeak Voice role
1999 Our Friend, Martin Martin at age 15 Direct-to-video release
2002 Big Fat Liar Himself Uncredited
2006 Miracle Dogs Too Leo Direct-to-video release
2006 Puff, Puff, Pass Tenant #2
2006 Who Made the Potato Salad? Michael
2006 Dreamgirls Talent Booker Cameo
2008 Kissing Cousins Antwone
2008 Green Flash Jason Bootie Direct-to-DVD release
Alternative title: Beach Kings
2009 Call of the Wild Dr. Spencer
2009 Road to the Altar Simon Fox
2010 Mega Shark Versus Crocosaurus Dr. McCormick Direct-to-DVD release
2011 Judy Moody and the Not Bummer Summer Mr. Todd
2012 Rhymes with Banana J
2013 Sonic Sonic the Hedgehog Voice role, Fan film
2014 Dumbbells The Leader
2014 Santa Con Paul Greenberg
Television
Year Title Role Notes
1984 The Jeffersons Van Van Morris Episode: "Ebony and Ivory"
1984 Silence of the Heart Hanry Television movie
Uncredited
1985 Kids Don't Tell Christofer Television movie
1985 Charlie & Co. Robert Richmond 18 episodes
1986 The Disney Sunday Movie Jake Episode: "The Leftovers"
1987 Mr. Belvedere Ernie Masters Episode: "Jobless"
1987 Good Morning, Miss Bliss Bobby Wilson Episode: Pilot
1987 Jay Leno's Family Comedy Hour Television special
1988 Cadets Cadet Nicholls Unsold pilot
1989–1998 Family Matters Steve Urkel
Stefan Urquelle
Various Urkel family members
204 episodes
1990 Camp Cucamonga Dennis Brooks Television movie
1991 Full House Steve Urkel Episode: "Stephanie Gets Framed"
1991 Step by Step Steve Urkel Episode: "The Dance"
1993 Adventures of Sonic the Hedgehog Sonic the Hedgehog (voice) 65 episodes
1993–1994 Sonic the Hedgehog Sonic the Hedgehog (voice) 26 episodes
1995 The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air Derek Episode: "Not with My Cousin You Don't"
1996 Sonic Christmas Blast! Sonic the Hedgehog (Voice) Television special
1997 Step by Step Crew Member/Steve Urkel Episode: "A Star is Born"
Uncredited
1997 Meego Steve Urkel 2 episodes
1999-2000 Grown Ups J. Calvin Frazier 22 episodes
1999-2000 Sonic Underground Sonic, Manic, & Sonia (voices) 40 episodes
2003 111 Gramercy Park BJ Brown Unsold pilot
2005 Half & Half Hershel Episode: "The Big State of the Reunion Episode"
2007 The Game Chris Episode: "The Big Chill"
2007 Boston Legal Kevin Givens Episode: "Guise 'n Dolls"
2009-2012 Psych Tony 2 episodes
2010 Fake It Till You Make It Reggie Culkin 8 episodes
Executive producer
2011 The Problem Solverz K-999 (voice) 2 episodes
2011 Are We There Yet? Ray Savage Episode: "The Nick Gets Jealous Episode"
2011 House Portland Episode: "Twenty Vicodin"
2011 Love That Girl! Director Episode: "Director's Cut"
2012 NCIS Martin Episode: "A Desperate Man"
2012 SuperF*ckers Percy / Omnizod (Voice) Web series
2012-2013 Total Blackout Host 24 episodes
2014 CSI: Crime Scene Investigation Kenny / Passenger Episode: "Keep Calm & Carry On"
2014 Drunk History Grandmaster Caz Episode "American Music"

Awards and nominations[edit]

Year Award Category Title of work Result
1985 Young Artist Award Best Young Actor - Guest in a Television Series The Jeffersons Nominated
1986 Young Artist Award Best Young Supporting Actor in a New Television Series Charlie & Co. Nominated
1991 Young Artist Award Outstanding Young Comedian in a Television Series Family Matters Won
1994 NAACP Image Awards Outstanding Youth Actor/Actress Family Matters Won
1995 NAACP Image Awards Outstanding Youth Actor/Actress Family Matters Won
1996 NAACP Image Awards Outstanding Lead Actor in a Comedy Series Family Matters Nominated
1997 NAACP Image Awards Outstanding Lead Actor in a Comedy Series Family Matters Won
1996 Nickelodeon Kids' Choice Awards Favorite Television Actor Family Matters Nominated

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b Laufenberg, Norbert B. (2005). Entertainment Celebrities. Trafford Publishing. p. 697. ISBN 1-4120-5335-8. 
  2. ^ Braxton, Greg (June 18, 2010). "Jaleel White fondly recalls playing Urkel on 'Family Matters'". latimes.com. Retrieved August 22, 2010. 
  3. ^ "NOTABLE ALUMNI ACTORS". UCLA School of Theater, Film and Television. Retrieved September 29, 2014. 
  4. ^ "Jaleel White: A Busy Young Man". The Prescott Courier. April 26, 1991. p. 2. Retrieved April 7, 2014. 
  5. ^ Cutler, Jacqueline (August 21, 1999). "Jaleel White graduates to life among the 'Grown Ups'". The Rochester Sentinel. p. 5. Retrieved December 7, 2012. 
  6. ^ a b Ryan, Mike (June 14, 2011). "Q&A: Jaleel White on His 31-Year Career". vanityfair.com. Retrieved January 26, 2013. 
  7. ^ "Blacks on TV: Tuning in to the New Season". Ebony (Johnson Publishing Company) 40 (12): 68–69. October 1985. ISSN 0012-9011. 
  8. ^ "CBS Yanks 'Charlie & Co.', 'Trapper' In New Season". Jet (Johnson Publishing Company) 70 (10): 61. May 26, 1986. ISSN 0021-5996. 
  9. ^ Burlingame, Jon (September 24, 1988). "Sunday Highlights". The Modesto Bee. pp. A–10. Retrieved December 22, 2012. 
  10. ^ "Family Matters: 1989-1998". people.com. June 26, 2000. Retrieved October 11, 2008. 
  11. ^ Rhudy, Ben (November 12, 2006). "M&C Exclusive Interview: Jaleel White talks "Who Made the Potatoe Salad?"". monstersandcritics.com. Retrieved October 11, 2008. 
  12. ^ Gay, Verne (July 9, 1998). "Off Camera - Dissing 'Family' Goodbye/CBS Buries Finale of Show It Grabbed and Dropped". Newsday. p. B35. 
  13. ^ a b Noxon, Christopher (August 22, 1999). "Jaleel White ('Don't Call Me Urkel') Grows Up". nytimes.com. Retrieved October 11, 2008. 
  14. ^ Tucker, Ken (September 10, 1999). "Mo' and More". ew.com. Retrieved October 11, 2008. 
  15. ^ "Jaleel's 'Grown Ups' Premiere Brings White-Hot Ratings For UPN". nydailynews.com. August 5, 1999. Retrieved December 7, 2012. 
  16. ^ Bianculli, David (September 11, 2000). "First and Cursed: 'Girlfriends' Ripe For Debut Jinx". nydailynews.com. Retrieved April 7, 2014. 
  17. ^ a b "Celebrity Mailbag". The Toledo Blade. October 9, 1998. p. 4. Retrieved April 7, 2014. 
  18. ^ Erikson, Hal (2005). Television Cartoon Shows: The shows, M-Z (2 ed.). McFarland & Co. p. 758. ISBN 0-786-42256-4. 
  19. ^ "Where Are the Child Stars of Yesterday?". Ebony (Johnson Publishing Company) 59 (7): 98. May 2004. ISSN 0012-9011. 
  20. ^ a b "TV Q&A". The Post and Courier. June 29, 2007. p. 2-D. Retrieved April 7, 2014. 
  21. ^ "Access the Web: Jaleel White's 'Road To the Altar'". accesshollywood.com. June 16, 2009. Retrieved April 7, 2014. 
  22. ^ Garcia, Catherine (June 8, 2010). "'Family Matters' star Jaleel White talks first season DVD and new web series". popwatch.ew.com. Retrieved April 7, 2014. 
  23. ^ Schwartz, Alison (August 29, 2011). "Cee Lo Green's 'Cry Baby' Stunt Double: Jaleel White". people.com. Retrieved December 7, 2012. 
  24. ^ La Rosa, David (September 2, 2011). "House Goes to Jail with Steve Urkel". runninglip.com. Retrieved September 3, 2011. 
  25. ^ Shen, Maxine (April 25, 2012). "'Total Blackout' host Jaleel White on why you should be scared of the dark: A Q&A (also 'Psych' and 'DWTS')". nypost.com. Retrieved December 7, 2012. 
  26. ^ "Dancing with the Stars Cast Announced". February 28, 2012. Retrieved February 28, 2012. 
  27. ^ Parsley, Aaron (March 19, 2012). "Dancing with the Stars Returns with a Vengeance". people.com. Retrieved March 26, 2012. 
  28. ^ Shira, Dahvi (May 1, 2012). "Dancing with the Stars: Jaleel White Heads Home". people.com. Retrieved December 7, 2012. 
  29. ^ Schwartz, Alison; Triggs, Charlotte (April 6, 2012). "Jaleel White Didn't Know About His 'Jerkel' Nickname". people.com. Retrieved December 7, 2012. 
  30. ^ Fleeman, Mike (March 29, 2012). "Jaleel White Speaks Out About Ex-Girlfriend's Abuse Allegations". people.com. Retrieved December 7, 2012. 

External links[edit]