Yes, we are that old, lol.
White has been acting since the age of four. Before Family Matters, White was actually cast in the role of “Rudy” on the Cosby Show. 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.
White originally appeared on Family Matters as a guest star at age 12, but his one-time appearance boosted the ratings and he landed a permanent role on the show – making his catchphrase, “Did I do that?” a common saying in American homes during the late 80s and 90s.
Since the show ended, White got his degree from the University of California, Los Angeles for theater, film and television, still acts on a number of television shows, has done movies, is an accomplished voice-over actor, produces web series and has a beautiful little girl who he spent his birthday with.
“Hard to believe I’ve been around the sun as many times as I have,” White shared on his 45th birthday on Instagram. “But my life criteria for success has simplified tremendously over the years. As long as the amazing women in my life are healthy happy and smiling on most days, that is a direct reflection of just how much I am winning 🙌🏾 🥳 I am surrounded by daily laughter and love ❤️ Thank you for all the birthday wishes and everyone who has supported my endeavors this year! Family over everything. Create the life you envision. Do not settle for the limits others place on you.”
When he looks back over his career, Jaleel shares what it really boils down to.
“The way I see it, I just want to do good work. I figure that over my lifetime, if I’m able to just stack together the work, then people will be able to draw their own conclusions about what I am as an artist and what I am as a person.”
Despite what people may have read or think, White still affectionately likes to hear ‘Family Matters’ fans recognize him or call out his character’s name.
“It’s 100% flattering,” beams White. “People say the nicest things to me everywhere I go. I cannot pass through airport security without getting the full range of reactions from TSA. Yesterday, I was standing on a corner trying to cross the street and there was a busload of high school kids at the light and they screamed, ‘We love you Stefan!’ I kinda laughed and I waved to the buses. And two weeks ago, an 8-year-old girl comes running up to me and goes,…
… ‘Oh, my God. You’re Jaleel White!’ And it’s funny ’cause I may not get that much respect from somebody who is 35 plus, but because she’s 8-years-old and she’s seen me in Big Fat Liar, she knows more about me. What they give me is that they keep me going.”
“I got to be honest, be genuine with you. When they asked me to play Stefan, I didn’t want to! I was a kid—16 years old—and as far as being in touch with “swag” or “cool,” I wasn’t. I cared about basketball and knew how to hit the beat of the joke. I asked the ecutive producer why they were doing this character and he was like, “Look, the audience will love it. They need to see a closer side of you.” To me, it was boring, because people didn’t understand the change, the metamorphosis, I went through as Steve [Urkel]. As Stefan, I basically played Jaleel and just cranked up the cheesy factor. But when I first walked through the door in that iconic white suit, to this day, I’ve never heard a scream like that. At that point, nobody knew the Babyface song [that played during the scene] and that the white suit would become as iconic as it is.”
“I want to work with the best. Because when you work with the best, you surprise yourself.”