For most 80s babies, Jaleel White will forever be known as Steve Urkel from the hit ABC show Family Matters, but that's only a fraction of what's in the versatile actor's arsenal. On his newest ventures, Celebrities Undercover and BPOV, White utilizes his propensity for immersing himself into specific characters as well as his innate ability to interact with other people.
We talk to the former child star about his new web series, the funniest man in Hollywood and much more.
Talk a little bit about your new web series and how you became so fascinated with Vine.
The series is called BPOV, which stands for Broke People On Vine, cause rich people on Vine just ain't funny. I did it as a web series because I go to bed at night, I'm not even watching TV anymore I'm on my phone. Between what reality TV is doing and what the internet is doing, it's just taking things in a totally different direction. I'm checking out these videos online and I started thinking, "How can I be a part of this world?" This is a way for me to be a part of the internet on a regular basis, and it's fun.
You're making an appearance in Celebrities Undercover, can you talk about what you'll be doing?
They asked me to be a part of the show. I was hesitant at first but then it got kind of funny when I was able to come up with a character. I love playing characters so anytime I get a chance to really sink my teeth into other characters, it's a good opportunity to remind people what I can do. In the show, I played a guy from Atlanta, and he's real fugazi and he's kicking it with his friends here in L.A. Nobody knew it was me, which I was shocked about. We used prosthetics, I had the jewelry, I had the Kangol, jumpsuit, white shoes, the whole nine. People are gonna flip when they see it.
On screen you're a very funny guy. Have you ever done or considered doing standup?
Standup is definitely on my radar. It's a little conflicting sometimes because I'm a father, I have a four-year-old. As a matter of fact, Marlon Wayans is a good friend of mine and he really goes hard at standup. I peeped a couple of his shows on the road to see what the regiment was, so I am studying but for me, right now, I'm really into my daughter. I wanna make sure that, over the next ten years especially, that she becomes a respectable young lady. Having said that, don't put it past me to do something like that later in life. I'm a late bloomer so people are gonna be seeing new things out of me when I'm in my 40s and 50s.
On the subject of funny, who's the funniest human being you've ever been around?
Jamie Foxx will keep everybody laughing non-stop! Being around that guy you gotta stay on your toes, cause it's like the dozens back when we were in school. Jamie is pretty damn funny even when it's just having a normal conversation. Another guy that immediately pops into my head: Nick Offerman [Parks & Recreation] is a funny f***** man! I did an episode of Children's Hospital with Nick and my man has a dry sense of humor that's so genuine.
Family Matters is obviously a big part of your professional life. Do you still keep in touch with the other cast members and can fans ever expect a reunion?
I don't think a reunion is on Warner Bros' radar or ABC. People gotta understand that when ABC was bought by Disney, anything that was intrinsically Warner Bros. fell by the wayside from a nostalgia standpoint, so obviously it makes more sense for Disney to push something like Boy Meets World cause they own that. Sometimes we kind of get lost in the ABC shuffle, but as far as we're concerned, we're family forever. The kids were tighter than the adults. The adults stick together and the kids stick together so, Darius [McCrary] and Kellie [Shanygne-Williams] are like my brother and sister and we've all got kids now so we reach out to each other.
Lastly, in the show you were a Polka enthusiast, but in real life what music are you into these days and who do you consider the best new artist of this generation?
I'm trying to keep up with these young cats. I listen to everything from Skrillex to Schoolboy Q, Nipsey Hussle — Drake is just killing the game right now though. Wow, what a fan I am of that guy. He's literally turning himself into the [Michael] Jordan of rap, which makes sense since he has a deal with Brand Jordan. Overall, I'll just say I feel like an old man sometimes because music doesn't come out of a store anymore.
Celebrities Undercover can be seen Tuesdays at 10:30PM ET/PT on Oxygen.
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(Photo: Allen Berezovsky/Getty Images)