Growing Up Urkel: How Jaleel White Is Owning His Legacy

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Growing Up Urkel: How Jaleel White Is Owning His Legacy

When you interview Jaleel White about his 36-year career in show business, there’s inevitably an elephant in the room — and it’s wearing suspenders.

For nine seasons, White played catchphrase-spouting supernerd Steve Urkel on ABC’s Family Matters, a character so beloved by audiences that it saved the then-struggling sitcom from an untimely cancelation. But since the show signed off after its nine-season run on ABC (and then CBS) in 1997, it has been a difficult legacy for White to shake. While this is in many ways a testament to how good he was in the role, it’s an association not every former child star would embrace.

Which is exactly why Dan Kopelman — creator of White’s new CBS comedy Me, Myself and I starring Bobby Moynihan — initially danced around the subject. “Not knowing too much about who Jaleel is as a person, I was a teeny bit wary of even bringing it up,” Kopelman tells The Hollywood Reporter. But a wardrobe fitting before shooting the pilot demonstrated just how willing the actor was to go there.

Family Matters (ABC) 1990-1997
Shown: Jaleel White (as Steve Urkel)

“I was on my phone looking at a photo of Jaleel and a bunch of different potential [outfits]. And one of them was, he had pulled his pants up to his chest a la Urkel,” Kopelman recalls. “And I was like, ‘OK, this guy has got a sense of humor about himself…Read More

Lakeem Khodra
Lakeem Khodra
News Writer/Contributor at Tyranny News @lakeemk

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