'Family Matters' Cast Recalls Tension As Jaleel White's Presence On The Show Grew
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'Family Matters' Cast Recalls Tension As Jaleel White's Presence On The Show Grew

Family Matters wouldn’t have had its success without Jaleel White as Steve Urkel. The show, which ran for nine seasons, followed Urkel as the annoying next-door neighbor to the Winslow family.


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His affinity for Laura Winslow and dedication to winning her over was a fan favorite. Strangely, he was never supposed to be a series regular. And once he was made part of the cast on a permanent basis and his fame grew, the rest of the cast were upset about it. 

Steve Urkel was not supposed to be a focal point of the show

Family Matters only wrote one episode with Urkel. Casting directors weren’t initially sold on White and were turned off by his braces. But as his character being a nerd, they thought he could be a major asset.

He did the character so well that the producers wanted to see him in more episodes. He became a recurring character. But as the audience grew to like White more, he became a central part of the show.

Jaleel White says the cast was not receptive to him

After it was announced that White would be a major part of the cast, he says his co-stars were a bit salty about it. “My arrival to Family Matters was a rocky start at the beginning,” Jaleel White explains in the latest episode of E! True Hollywood Story. “They kind of had to accept that I was there,” White continued. “That was a process.”

Jo Marie Payton who starred as Harriette Winslow recalls the showrunners telling the cast that the “dynamic was going to change” and “the show was gonna be about him.” She admits it wasn’t a good thing for the cast at first. “And we said ‘Okay,'” she continues. “We weren’t happy about it. I think along the way it got to be a little resentful but it was just an adjustment that we had to make.”

It wasn’t until the ratings climbed that the cast truly began to embrace White.

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