For any 1990s kid, Family Matters was appointment television on Friday nights along with other ABC sitcoms such as Full House and Step by Step. Jaleel White as Steve Urkel made TGIF must-see television. But it seems everything wasn't all good for the actor in the beginning. The Family Matters star got candid about the classic sitcom and not feeling “welcomed” at first.
For millions of fans, Jaleel White and Steve Urkel feel like one and the same. Despite being centered around a Black family, it was Steve Urkel who made the series a pop culture phenomenon. But everyone wasn’t on board for Urkel's guest appearance, according to the actor, who recently said "I was not welcomed to the cast at all. They know what it was." In an interview for Uncensored, White also revealed about his first appearance on the TGIF classic:
I didn’t think anything of it being casting on Family Matter because it was only supposed to be a guest spot. It was one and done.
Jaleel White’s revelation in the clip shouldn't have been anything new for true Family Matters fans, though it teases what to expect from the upcoming show. As White pointed out, the character of Steve Urkel was just supposed to be a guest spot on the ABC sitcom. But fortunately (or unfortunately) for the actor, the character proved to be extremely popular and led to the show being restructured. So, while White was not welcomed at first, he was key to making the series a beloved classic.
While Steve Urkel saved Family Matters from a premature end, it was another character Jaleel White portrayed that seems to have irked him more. The introduction of Urkel’s alter ego Stefan Urquelle changed the public’s perception of White. The actor said about Urkel’s smooth alter ego:
I was as caught off guard about the phenomenon of Stefan as anyone. All of America thought I was this way.
In his Uncensored episode, Jaleel White became emotional over his late Family Matters co-star Michelle Thomas. Check out the full promo clip of Jaleel White’s episode of the TV One series below:
As a true Family Matters fan, much of what Jaleel White said makes sense. White, along with other stars from the beloved series, have revealed some behind-the-scenes stories in recent years. Learning some of those stories, especially about the disappearance of Judy Winslow have been disappointing, to say the least. It was still hard hearing about White’s time on the classic sitcom.
Jaleel White going from guest spot to main cast member wasn’t too surprising. Steve Urkel becoming more than a guest appearance was inevitable given his reception in White’s first episode. The character became a cultural phenomenon and a patron saint of blerds everywhere. Unfortunately, Steve Urkel’s popularity cast a shadow over White’s career for a few years. But now, White seems to have come out on the other side with some perspective as evidenced by his recent foray into the weed market.
Hopefully, Jaleel White felt some relief by telling his truth, but if you want to see Steve Urkel in all his glory, you can stream every season of Family Matters on Hulu, Prime Video and Apple TV+.