Jaleel White Speaks on Discrimination As Black Child Actor in Hollywood: “I was Never Invited to the Emmys”

by Gina Williams

February 18, 2021

Actor Jaleel White was a household name in the ’90s, known for his iconic role as the suspenders-wearing Steve Urkel on Family MattersBut despite his success, Hollywood treated him differently than his white child actor counterparts. In his podcast Ever After, White opened up about the struggles he faced while being a Black child star in Hollywood.

White mentioned that other popular child actors received better treatment than him, giving them red carpet treatment while he was never invited to the Emmys. 

“It’s fair of me now to definitely say you were made to feel African-American. Fred Savage [Wonder Years] was always invited to the Emmys; he was always treated like a darling during this time. I was never invited to the Emmys, even to present. I was pretty much told that I would be wasting my time to even submit myself for nomination.” 

Jaleel White spoke with fellow former child star Mayim Bialik, who starred on Blossom, about Black tv culture and their differences in Hollywood. “It was so normalized,” White told Bialik. “You just shrugged and said, ‘Oh yeah, that’s for the white kids.’ When a Black person would win anything — never at the Emmys but at least on the Oscars side — if Denzel [Washington] would win or Whoopi [Goldberg] would win, those were ‘Pick up the phone and call the whole family’ moments.”

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