For six seasons, A Different World entertained America with a host of lovable Hillman College kids. Fast forward 25 years and Whitley Gilbert, Dwayne Wayne, Denise Huxtable and rest of the gang are still fan favorites.
ESSENCE.com caught up Jasmine Guy, who played southern belle and upper-crust debutant Whitley, and Kadeem Hardison, who played the likable math wiz from Brooklyn Dwayne. The once on screen lovebirds chatted about their fondest memories, where their characters would be today, what they've been up to and more.
ESSENCE.com: Were you aware how much of an influence you would have on America’s black youth?
JASMINE GUY: No, I had no idea. I was so isolated in what we were doing. Going to the set, working on the role. Making sure that Whitley was as believable as possible. I felt that we were funny. I felt that we were relevant for the times, but I really had no idea the show would last this long and that it would have that kind of impact on kids going to school.
ESSENCE.com: What’s your fondest memory of working on the show?
GUY: Debbie [Allen] played a trick on me and there was this scene where Whitley’s birthday comes up and she thinks everybody forgot about her. So, she gets a bottle of wine and goes to her room and takes her picture of Denzel [Washington] and pins it to her pillow. She has this fantastical moment with Denzel. In the middle of this revelry the girls walked in on her. We did the scene once and the audience was laughing. Debbie said let’s do it again because we had some lighting problems. I go to do it again and this time I really rev it up. Right [when] the girls [were] coming to tap me on the shoulder, it was the real Denzel. I freaked out! I thought I was seeing a ghost. I thought I concentrated so hard that he appeared. I kind of climbed into the bed away from him at first. Of course I look terrified. Of all the times I wanted to meet the real Denzel, that’s how I met him. [Laughs]
HARDISON: My favorite episode is easily “The Cat's in the Cradle.” We went to another school and we didn’t tell two sides of the story. It was a racially charged issue. They locked us up in jail with a white dude and we wanted to kill each other. That’s one of my favorites acting wise. It had comedy and drama. It gave me that feeling that I was doing more than doing sitcom stuff.
ESSENCE.com: Kadeem, was it awkward being Jasmine's love interest even though you were dating Cree Summer during the show?
HARDISON: That wasn’t even my concern at the time. Dominic [Hoffman], Jasmine’s boyfriend at the time, did some spots on the show. It’s like you have your work wife and home wife. But your home wife also happens to work with you. As much as that could have been sticky, they were so in love with each, it was never an issue. Good God, if you thought me and Darryl were close, he and Jasmine were inseparable. They brought out the silliness in each other.
ESSENCE.com: In the last episode we learn Dwayne and Whitley are expecting their first child. Where do you think they are today?
GUY: I think they’d still be married. I think they’d have a son and he’d be in early adulthood. I think Whitley would still be trying to make Dwayne the man she wanted for her status in society. His concern would always be to take care of her, to take care of his family, be very diligent and hard working. He would also have a love and a tolerance for Whitney that never dies. I think she would still be very controlling and very much in her son’s life too. A happy marriage… but after 20 years, I think some conflict coming up now that their son is gone and they’re less focused on him. Especially for Whitley, I think she might have some sort of crisis, like an identity crisis.
HARDISON: I think four kids in. Still married. Still fighting. Upper middle class probably. Still in love.
ESSENCE.com: Who do you keep in touch with now?
GUY: I still talk to Cree [Summer], Kadeem [Hardison], Debbie [Allen] and I’ve worked with Lou Myers. I see Glynn Turman a lot because he does a lot of theater. We were all together for the last time when A Different World was launching its season on Nickelodeon. We all got together and could not stop laughing. It’s almost like high school when you graduate you keep in touch closer to the ending of the show, but people have moved on and had kids, lives have changed. I would love to get together again. They are my friends, I will always consider them my friends.
HARDISON: Darryl Bell… with him every day or every other day we talk. He and I have always, from the day we met, argued over our knowledge of sports. There aren’t too many days that go by when him and I don’t talk. Me and Cree, we still talk. I see Lisa every now and then. She lives close by, we’re still neighbors.
ESSENCE.com: Jasmine, since the show ended you’ve done more acting, dancing, producing, directing and you’ve even done music. What have you been working on and what's next?
GUY: I went to back to theater because there were some things I really wanted for myself as an artist. I wanted to do a straight play... I’ve been given some amazing opportunities as a director. The first play I directed was For Colored Girls. I had a wonderful group of women. I had never seen a production of the show and I really just went with my gut. I’m about to direct Mountain Top here in Atlanta, which is the first production outside of Broadway.
ESSENCE.com: Kadeem, we hear you're doing a new TV show. When will it debut?
HARDISON: I’m doing a new TV show called Cult with the CW. I get to play an actor who’s playing a cop on a show within a show. It’s complicated but it’s fun. I think [it will premiere] probably in January.