When it comes to iconic television characters, Steve Urkel still stands as one of the most recognizable in the history of the medium. The suspender-wearing, cheese-eating and nose-snorting nerd truly worked his way into the pop culture zeitgeist and became a staple of the 90s. This was mostly due to the comedic performance of Jaleel White, who played the role of Urkel and a slew of others during Family Matters’ nine-season run. One of those roles was Urkel’s suave alter-ego, Stefan Urquelle, and it sounds like playing the part helped White in the dating department.
Steve Urkel was popular among general TV viewers, but Stefan Urquelle was also popular among the ladies. The impossibly cool Urquelle was the person Steve wanted to be and, based on Jaleel White’s recent comments, he was the man every Black woman wanted to be with as well:
The creation of Stefan definitely helped me out with Black women tremendously. Unbeknownst to me, Stefan saved any chance I was going to have with a Black woman.
Stefan Urquelle was introduced in Family Matters Season 5’s “Dr. Urkel and Mr. Cool.” In the episode, Steve, aware of how tired Laura has become of his nerdy and clumsy tendencies, develops a formula using his “cool genes,” which transforms him into Stefan Urquelle. Not only does the concoction straighten his posture, deepen his voice and improve his eyesight, but it also lands him Laura. Unfortunately, Stefan is initially vain and apathetic to other people’s problems, until Steve later adjusts the formula to give him sincere feelings.
Some may chuckle a bit when they read Jaleel White’s recent comments to Page Six, but should we really be surprised? Stefan was engineered by Steve to be the definition of cool, and he was definitely that and then some. His romantic moments with Laura Winslow also made for some of the steamiest moments on Family Matters.
White was one of a number of Black actors who managed to make waves on TV in the ‘90s. Will Smith and Martin Lawrence are among some of the biggest Black male actors of that decade, as both headlined their own sitcoms. Others like The Cosby Show’s Malcolm-Jamal Warner, A Different World’s Kadeem Hardison and Living Single’s T.C. Carson also carved out nice places for themselves with their roles.
While Jaleel White has taken on other work in the years since Family Matters ended, it’s easy to assume that most still remember him for playing Steve and Stefan on the hit comedy. It’s great that the show brought him plenty of recognition as an actor, but hearing that it also landed him a fair share of dates is cool as well.
All nine seasons of Family Matters are currently available to stream on Hulu.