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Thursday, June 10, 2010

Jaleel White

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Jaleel White: ‘I’m More Than Just a Guy Who Was in Suspenders’

Jaleel White, who won fans over with his iconic character Steve Urkel in the ’90s, is now starring in the web series Fake It Til You Make It on Hulu.com. The 33-year-old Family Matters alum stars as Reggie Culkin, a former child star who now mentors three Hollywood wannabes.

White, who also wrote and produced the series, is taking a chance to prove that he’s much more than that lovable geek.

His digital comeback.
“After if did the web series Road to the Altar last year, I knew immediately that I had to come back and do this bigger, badder and better.”

Look out for some familiar faces.
“We have some amazing guest stars. We have a huge cameo by Rashad Evans, who just beat Rampage in the UFC fight last week. We have a great episode with Wayne Brady, and Debbie Allen gives us a remarkable episode.”

Scoring a gig on Hulu.
“Everyone kept telling us from the beginning, ‘You can’t get to Hulu, they’re only for network shows.’ I just put that in the back of my head and kept making our show and then when we were done, we met with Hulu and now those guys feel like brothers. They watched the first three episodes and were like, ‘We want it.’ That was super-duper flattering.”

In it for the long haul.
“The thing that I’m really focused on right now is creating a collection of characters that different generations will say, ‘Well I like this one better and I like that one better.’ There are certain people who know Robert De Niro for Meet the Parents and others who will go, ‘No, that’s Taxi Driver‘ and that’s the way good entertainers should be.”

He’s no one-note wonder.
“Any role I’ve ever played or ever will play, I just want it to be authentic. I feel like the only thing I’m guilty of in my past is actually acting. I couldn’t be further removed as a real person from the characters that I’ve played. At the rate that Hollywood hands out opportunities, I could be dead before anybody realizes how many characters I really can play.”

Separating himself from Urkel.
“I’m more than just a guy who was in suspenders and high-waters. I was a storyteller. It’s just when you’re young, you may not get the credit that you deserve. But I’m not tripping about that, I was well compensated and I just want to keep people laughing.”

Looking back on his child star years.
“It’s weird. For me, it’s like talking about a bunch of home runs I hit in high school. You might have some incredibly fond memories of the ninth grade, but I’m sure when you look at pictures of yourself in the ninth grade, you’d kind of rather not sometimes. That’s the way I feel about it. Those were my formative years. Fortunately, I had a great childhood that I don’t feel the need to run from. I’ve definitely matured and I’ve come a long way physically from what that guy was.”
Dealing with one-liners from fans.
“That can happen to anybody. I mean, Mike Myers has a lot of people that throw one-liners at him at inappropriate times. You’re going to have some people who digest your work with class, and you’re going to have other people who don’t. It is what it is.

Taking pride in the sitcom that brought him stardom.
“The episodes themselves, I’ll always stand behind. My favorite episode in the first season was ‘The Big Fix,’ which was the episode where I actually got to take Laura out on a date because I wrote a school paper for Eddie. That’s one of my favorite episodes of all time because I was 12-years-old and this was my first real workload. I was kind of getting to know myself.”

Did he ever have a real-life crush on his co-star Kellie Williams (Laura Winslow)?
“Like I said, it was my high school!”

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