It’s a rare condition, this day and age, to see a show quite like Family Matters, which was, initially, not too different from any other family sitcom when it first aired on ABC in 1989. Everything changed with the addition of one character who was not even a member of the Winslows - the family the series was centered on - but, nonetheless, Jaleel White’s performance as the super smart, but super annoying, Steve Urkel made him the star of the show.
As days go by, you may have wondered what Mr. White and the rest of the Family Matters cast have been up to since, perhaps even picking random titles in your head and asking, “Did they do thaaaaaat?” Well, luckily we can provide an answer to what they did since the now iconic sitcom had its final curtain call in 1998 after moving to CBS for its ninth and final season. We shall start with the show’s original male lead.
Reginald VelJohnson (Carl Winslow)
Leading the Family Matters cast is Reginald VelJohnson as Carl Winslow, who is only one of several police officers the actors has notably played throughout his career. He started as a jail guard in 1984’s Ghostbusters before joining the Die Hard cast as Sgt. Al Powell and, more recently, starred on Disney+’s Turner & Hooch series as David Sutton, whom he also played in the 1989 original movie with Tom Hanks.
The actor has also played a limo driver in Crocodile Dundee, a preacher on Mike & Molly, himself on Brooklyn Nine-Nine, and, presumably, poked fun at a different sitcom dad (Uncle Phil on The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air) with his small role in Like Mike. In 2021, VelJohnson reprised his role as God on Adult Swim’s Lazor Wulf, joined the Invincible cast for an episode as principal of Reginald VelJohnson High School, and starred in an ‘80s-tastic, musical holiday ad for Planters nuts.
Jo Marie Payton (Harriette Winslow)
Actress Jo Marie Payton played Carl’s wife, Harriette - an elevator operator who originated as a supporting character on the ABC hit, Perfect Strangers, before getting her own spin-off in the form of Family Matters. After the series ended, she found smaller, recurring roles on other hit sitcoms like UPN’s Moesha, NBC’s Will & Grace, fellow UPN hit Girlfriends, and the Bounce original Mann and Wife in 2016.
In 2018, Payton starred in a live-action movie based on the story of The Little Mermaid (not to be confused with Disney’s upcoming remake of their own 1992 animated classic) and shared the big screen with the likes of Matthew McConaughey and Snoop Dogg in Harmony Korine’s The Beach Bum the following year. In February 2022, she began reprising her role from Disney Channel’s hit animated series The Proud Family as Suga Mama on Disney+’s revival, The Proud Family: Louder and Prouder.
Jaleel White (Steve Urkel)
Joining the cast as a guest star midway through Season 1 before becoming a series regular and, essentially, the main focus of the whole show when he was just a teen is Jaleel White as Steve Urkel, whom the actor has actually reprised a few times since Family Matters ended, but not quite the same way. He leant his voice to the character as the celebrity guest of the week on Scooby-Doo and Guess Who? in 2019 and is currently working on an animated holiday special for HBO Max called Did I Do That to the Holidays?: A Steve Urkel Story.
Outside of his most successful character, White has found success voicing Sonic the Hedgehog in various iterations, playing a talent booker in 2006’s Dreamgirls, participating in several Drunk History reenactments, and playing both Martin Luther King Jr. and Muhammad Ali for Netflix’s Historical Roasts, to name a few. He recently starred in the BET original dramedy film, North of 10, and has two other films - The Great Inheritance and Netflix’s Hustle - also coming out in 2022.
Kellie Shanygne Williams (Laura Winslow)
The object of Steve’s affection for most of the series was the Winslows’ eldest daughter, Laura - the debut role of Kellie Shanygne Williams. She did not do much acting outside of Family Matters, but after the series ended, she starred in the 1998 ensemble comedy, Ride, and joined the cast of the short-lived ABC sitcom What About Joan, led by Academy Award nominee Joan Cusack.
Williams also starred in 2005’s Usher-led thriller In the Mix, 2009’s Steppin: The Movie, and had a recurring role on rapper Eve’s self-titled comedy series on UPN for three episodes. She would also follow in the footsteps of her TV mother, Jo Marie Payton, with guest roles on shows like Moesha, Girlfriends, and The Parkers before eventually co-starring in the upcoming holiday movie Merry Little Switchmas.
Darius McCrary (Eddie Winslow)
In addition to co-starring in Steppin: The Movie, in 2020, Kellie Shanygne Williams also did a holiday movie called Christmas in Carolina with her former Family Matters co-star Darius McCrary, who played her brother, Eddie, after previously starring in the Ivan Reitman-produced Big Shots and the Oscar-winning Mississippi Burning. Like Jaleel White, the actor also once played Muhammad Ali, in HBO’s 1997 original film Don King: Only in America, a couple years before joining the star-studded ensemble cast of the dramedy, Kingdom Come, in 2001.
McCrary was also the voice of Jazz in the first Transformers, had a role in Saw VI, and nabbed recurring roles in big hit shows like HBO’s The Leftovers, FX’s Anger Management with Charlie Sheen, and Fox’s Star with Queen Latifah. He more recently has become a series regular on the Urban Movie Channel original series Monogamy and is currently working on a horror movie called Sebastian and a crime thriller called Divine Order.
Telma Hopkins (Rachel Crawford)
Originally a regular character for the first five seasons was Harriette’s sister, Rachel Crawford, who began starring on the short-lived NBC sitcom Getting By after leaving her regular position on Family Matters. She would go on to star on another handful of sitcoms in either one-time guest spots (such as Netflix’s Dear White People or the Zendaya-led K.C. Undercover on Disney), recurring roles (including The Hughleys or TBS’s Are We There Yet?) or starring roles (i.e. UPN’s Half & Half).
Hopkins has also starred in movies like 1999’s The Wood, the Mike Myers-led comedy The Love Guru from 2008, and, most recently, was part of the Matrix Resurrections cast as botany expert, Freya, in 2021. She has also leant her voice to several notable cartoons - or, more accurately “Nicktoons” - such as The Loud House and its spin-off The Casagrandes as the character the Maybelle, as well as the Paramount+ exclusive, 3-D animated reboot of the Rugrats as a potential love interest for Tommy’s grandpa, Lou, who is an admirer of Angelica’s doll, Cynthia.
Bryton McClure (Richie Crawford)
In 2021, Telma Hopkins would also land a recurring role on The Young and the Restless alongside her former Family Matters co-star Bryton McClure, who played her son, Richie Crawford. The daytime soap opera has essentially been his post-Family Matters claim to fame since he joined the cast in 2004 as Devon Hamilton, but he has also led a successful voice acting carer that includes playing Roy on Winx Club, Zare Leonis on Star Wars: Rebels, and two DC TV shows: Cyborg on DC Super Friends and Static on Young Justice.
A few of Bryton’s other more prominent voice acting gigs include playing Mark Surge in the 2010 Lego Hero Factory: Rise of the Rookies and the subsequent spin-off series; the Netflix exclusive, Nickelodeon original series Gllitch Techs in 2020; and, more recently, an episode of Pacific Rim: The Black - the anime-inspired spin-off of the film series created by Guillermo del Toro - also on Netflix. McClure also had a recurring role among The CW’s The Vampire Diaries cast as teenage witch named Luka Martin and appeared in the 2017 drama film The Intruders.
Shawn Harrison (Waldo Geraldo Faldo)
As Steve and Eddie’s dim-witted rival-turned-best friend Waldo Geraldo Faldo, we have Shawn Harrison, who is yet another Family Matters cast member with a number of credits in common with his co-stars. He has guest starred on UPN’s Moesha and Eve, had a recurring role on Girlfriends, and leant his voice to the animated DC TV show Legion of Super Heroes as various characters, but most prominently as the animalistic superhero Timber-Wolf.
Some audiences might also recognize him from his pre-Family Matters roles as an unnamed kid on Hill Street Blues (his debut), an episode of Punky Brewster, and a recurring spot on NBC’s Emmy-nominated sitcom Day By Day, starring a pre-Seinfeld cast Julia Louis-Dreyfus. Harrison has also starred in movies like Silent But Deadly and Uncle Ed’s Bucket List and more recently appeared on TV shows like The CW’s revival of Dynasty in 2020 and the Ms. Pat show on BET the following year.
Jaimee Foxworth (Judy Winslow)
The Family Matters character who is famous for walking up the stairs in Season 4 never to come back down again (until that was debunked by YouTuber Vee Infuso) is the Winslow’s youngest daughter, Judy, played by Jaimee Foxworth. Before starring on the sitcom, the actress debuted on the Sherman Hemsley-led sitcom Amen in 1986 and the short-lived drama TV 101 in 1988, but after her character her was written off of Family Matters, she would never act again… at least in mainstream media.
After forming an R&B group in the late 1990s with her sisters called S.H.E. (who signed a deal with Shaquille O’Neal), she began a career as an adult film star from 2000 to 2002 under the pseudonym Crave. During that time, she also struggled with substance abuse, which she would confront as a participant on Season 10 of Celebrity Rehab with Dr. Drew on VH1. Foxworth is now clean and sober and her main responsibility is being a full-time mother.
Rosetta LeNoire (Estelle Winslow)
As the matriarch of the Winslow family, Estelle, we have Rosetta LeNoire who - like her onscreen grandson, Bryton McClure, but in reverse - started out on soap operas like Guiding Light and Another World years before joining the Family Matters cast. She made her feature film debut in 1958’s Anna Lucasta - opposite future Catwoman actress Eartha Kitt - and later starred in other films like Brewster’s Millions with Richard Pryor, and The Brother from Another Planet with Justice League’s Joe Morton in 1984.
Her other TV credits before Family Matters include an episode of the original Fantasy Island and recurring roles on both NBC’s Gimme a Break! and the aforementioned Amen. LeNoire's final acting credit was a 1998 episode of Cosby before she passed away in 2002 at the age of 90.
For years, they filled our houses with happiness and smothered the blues with tenderness. Now that you know where to find the Family Matters cast these days, I suggest you start binging.
Jason has been writing since he was able to pick up a washable marker, with which he wrote his debut illustrated children's story, later transitioning to a short-lived comic book series and (very) amateur filmmaking before finally settling on pursuing a career in writing about movies in lieu of making them. Look for his name in just about any article related to Batman.
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