*This time last year, Jaleel White was in the headlines denying rumors that he was gay and that he had a relationship with former NBA star Penny Hardaway.
It was a frustrating distraction for the actor-writer-producer, who at the time was trying to promote the first ever DVD release of “Family Matters,” the 90s sitcom that made him a household name as the Winslow family’s loveable next-door-neighbor, Urkel.
A year later, White is now in movie theaters as school teacher Mr. Todd in the film “Judy Moody and the NOT Bummer Summer.” This time there’s no fabricated scandal taking away from his promotion of the film. But, he did take a moment to discuss another source of frustration. It’s the notion that he’s been somewhere hibernating since the end of “Family Matters,” or that his career has since flatlined.
“I definitely have several more chapters left in my career,” he tells EUR during interviews for “Judy Moody.”
“For all the people who play the ‘Where is he now?’ game with me, it’s kind of tough to swallow sometimes, only because I know how young I’ve been throughout that, and how young I still am,” he says. “So you kind of have to just take it with a grain of salt and just be like, ‘Okay, the chapters will happen as they happen.’ But at least for a man in Hollywood, I’m still very, very young.”
White admits it’s difficult these days for people to keep up with the television work he’s been doing. When “Family Matters” was at its height, there was less cable competition, and no such thing as social media to lure people away from the boob tube.
“I was getting 18s, 19s, 20 – you know – these were the numbers I was pulling,” White says of “Family Matters’” ratings share in its heyday. “That’s absurd now. Those are Super Bowl numbers, NBA Finals numbers. So you put that into perspective, it’s very difficult to get everybody’s attention at once – for a good reason. For a negative reason, it could happen like that.”
“I had one girl come and ask me, ‘Wow, like, what have you been doing in the last 10 years?’” White recalls. “I was like, ‘Well, I did an episode of “Psych” last year, I was on “Boston Legal.” It’s like babe, I understand, there’s a lot of distractions out there. They say a lot of people spend more time on their Facebook than they do even watching TV.”
Despite the blessings and curses that follow a former child star forced to carry an iconic role on his back for all eternity, Jaleel told us about a rare “honest moment” during the “Judy Moody” interviews that reminded him of why he became an actor in the first place.