In recent years, members of the Family Matters cast have admitted that there was a rift between them and Urkel star Jaleel White. But during a September ’90s Com panel, Jo Marie Payton said she will always love her former co-star and said no one continues to hold a grudge against him.
The cast met on Sept. 16 at the Tampa Convention Center to chat about their classic TGIF hit—but White opted out of the event. Because of his noticeable absence, fans wondered if he wasn’t welcomed by the other actors. Payton instantly put that theory to rest.
“I will always love him,” she said of White.
In 2021, White gave a candid interview to TVOne’s Uncensored. During that interview, he said he was an outcast on set. According to him, he was mistreated, particularly by Payton, Reginald VelJohnson, and Telma Hopkins. He noted that he’s no longer angry but admitted there is nothing to mend. He has gone his own way, and he wishes everyone the best.
“It was what it was,” he said, per EW. “They knew more than I did about the business… at that age. They understood how the dynamic was changing. But I do think they do deserve credit at times for having helped foster a more harmonious environment by season 3, by season 4, by season 5. And we did become very much a family.”
Jaleel White Was Originally Hired as a Guest Star on ‘Family Matters’
Jaleel White was 13 when Family Matters premiered. He was initially hired to play a guest role in Season 1 Episode 4, but he was such a hit during the table reading and with fans that he became the star of the show. White instantly skyrocketed to child star fame, which was hard to deal with.
While speaking at ’90s Con, Payton said that she and White did “bump heads” occasionally, which is the nature of any job.
“But I’ll always love him,” she added. “He was always a child to me, and I don’t care how old he is, he’s still a child to me…To me, no matter how old he gets, he’ll still be a baby. And I forgive everything because I have that kind of heart to get past stuff.”
VelJohnson noted that White had “a lot to deal with” when he joined Family Matters because the cast was already “established as a family.”
“We love him. We’re sorry he’s not here,” VelJohnson said. “But he’s a special person.”
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