Jaleel White Says He Was 'Not Welcomed' by 'Family Matters' Cast When He Joined Show as Steve Urkel

Jaleel White played the now-iconic Steve Urkel on Family Matters from 1989 through 1998

Jaleel White
Photo: Michael Tullberg/Getty

Jaleel White's role as Steve Urkel in Family Matters is recognized as one of the most iconic parts of the hit sitcom, but the actor has revealed that he didn't initially get a warm welcome from his costars.

In a new sneak peek at White's upcoming appearance on TV One's Uncensored (airing Sunday at 10 p.m.), he opens up about joining the cast of Family Matters after originally being tapped to guest star for just one episode.

"I was not welcomed to the cast at all," he says in the clip. "They know what it was … I didn't think anything of it being cast to be on Family Matters, because it was supposed to only be a guest spot, one and done."

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White joined the cast of Family Matters in 1989 for what was meant to be just one episode in the sitcom's first season. He took on the role of Steve Urkel, the quirky, science-genius neighbor to the Winslow family.

After a positive response from fans, Urkel — with his signature suspenders, glasses and catchphrase, "Did I do that?" — went on to become a fixture on the series until it wrapped in 1998.

Family Matters
Family Matters. Walt Disney Television via Getty

The sneak peek also features White, 44, reminiscing on his relationship with late costar Michelle Thomas, who died at the age of 30 in 1998. Thomas played White's girlfriend on Family Matters.

"Michelle Thomas became a very special person. I literally cannot say her name or I'll cry," he says, choking back tears.

In addition to White and Thomas, the show starred Reginald VelJohnson, Kellie Shanygne, Darius McCrary, Jo Marie Payton, Rosetta LeNoire, Bryton James, Shawn Harrison and Jaimee Foxworth.

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