Family Matters was a standout of the 90’s Television era. The show was a spin-off of “Perfect Strangers”, and it featured an African American middle-class family in Chicago, Illinois. Jaleel White starred as Steve Urkel, the shows zany breakout character who went on to become a pop culture phenom. His popularity was super surprising considering the crazy neighbor was only supposed to be on for one episode. This was a fact not lost on his co-stars, who apparently were not super welcoming on set after he stole everyone’s spotlight.
“Did I do that?” became his signature catchphrase. Urkle was usually dressed in glasses and suspenders, and always getting into crazy adventures. White played a handful of other characters throughout his tenure on the show, from Urkle’s alter ego Stefan Urquelle, to his crazy cousin Myrtle Urkle.
According to White, his time playing the character was not always fun. The pressures of stardom and obstacles of being a young black actor in Hollywood definitely took a toll on him. Around the time of the shows cancellation White reportedly said ”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.”
Years later he was singing a different tune, saying he felt the show belonged in the era “before cellphones.”
Co-star Darius McCrary aka Eddie Winslow recently spoke on the show possibly being rebooted. He had great things to say about White. “[Jaleel] dont wanna disappoint nobody. Cause what he did, ain’t nobody ever did. that dude played 3, 4 characters. That’s one of the baddest dudes as far as the game is concerned, and so under appreciated in my opinion.” He continued “I dont think that [Jaleel] wants to disappoint anybody, by putting them suspenders and not being able to make you feel what he made you feel.”
In an upcoming episode of TV One’s Uncensored series, White reveals that the kids was not initially fond of him, something he did not mind since the character was only meant to be a one off.
“I was not welcomed to the cast at all. They know what it was,” White said in the clip. “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.”
He reveals he was even more shocked at everyone’s response to Steve’s alter ego Stefan.
“I was as caught off-guard by the phenomenon of Stefan as anyone. All of America thought I was this way,” the actor added.
Jaleel White quickly stole the show as everyone’s favorite nerd on the classic sitcom Family Matters. He turned what was meant to be one guest appearance into an iconic starring role. An all-new episode of UNCENSORED airs Sunday at 10/9C. pic.twitter.com/QAp7sy8zNc— TV One (@tvonetv) May 3, 2021
Jaleel White’s Uncensored episode airs Sunday, May 9.