When A Different World hit the scene in 1988, no one knew the longevity that the show would hold.
Featuring a cast of powerful, educated, and revolutionary Black students, the series grew to become the inspiration behind many of television’s most memorable Black characters to date.
Opening up the conversation on usually avoided issues such as race, sex, and equal rights, A Different World found a way to provide comfort to an under appreciated class of people and remind us that being Black was meant to be beautiful. Though the show only ran for five years, its impact is one that will last for a lifetime.
Making girls swoon as the smart and hilarious Dwayne Wayne, Kadeem Hardison proved that Black men — even while young — can still impact the world in their own way. Although his role as Dwayne ended in 1993, Hardison’s career was just getting started. Going on to act in amazing shows and movies such as Static Shock, Girlfriends, Between Brothers, Vampire in Brooklyn, The Sixth Man, and more, the award winning actor has proved his dedication to the art time and time again.
Currently, Hardison stars alongside Zendaya Coleman as Craig Cooper in the hit Disney Channel series, K.C. Undercover. Additionally, he has one daughter named Sophia (b. 1996) through his previous marriage to R&B songstress Chanté Moore.
Though Jasmine Guy’s bougie and prissy character Whitley Gilbert may not have been a favorite among viewers initially, it’s almost a guarantee that feelings changed by the time the show wrapped in 1993. Giving Black love inspiration and motivation through her character’s relationship with Dwayne Wayne, Guy’s role in A Different World was just the start to showcasing her mastered ability to deliver flawless execution of any role she portrays.
Though her résumé has filled with impressive credits since the show’s wrapping, most recently, the actress, dancer, singer and producer has had starring roles in shows such as If Loving You Is Wrong, K.C. Undercover (alongside Kadeem Hardison), The Quad, and The Vampire Diaries.
Beginning her role as Winifred “Freddie” Brooks during Season 2 of A Different World, Cree Summer’s character portrayal was like none other. Showing that being different while being Black is deserving of applause too, Summer’s role is one that is unmatched and undisputed as one of the best carefree character’s in Black comedy.
While fans of Summer may not have seen her physically act in many roles since the show’s end, she has voiced many of your favorite cartoon characters including characters from Rugrats, Animaniacs, Gargoyles, As Told By Ginger, The Proud Family, Codename: Kids Next Door, and more. Summer is now married to Angelo Pullen and the pair have two daughters named Brave and Hero.
Fun fact: Did you know Cree and Kadeem were in a long-term relationship while filming A Different World? We didn’t either.
He also acted in the 2000 movie Brother and in 2013, appeared in the film The Dark Party — which was directed by his good friend Kadeem Hardison. Although Bell is not married, he has been dating fellow actress Tempest Bledsoe (The Cosby Show) since 1993.
Playing the role of Jalessa Vinson (later Vinson-Taylor), actress and singer Dawnn Lewis became the friend that every girl wanted to have in her crew. Embodying the hardworking and determined characteristics of Jalessa in her real life, Lewis has gone on to start a multi-platform production company named Morning Jewel and non-profit organization that provides financial and programmatic support to underprivileged youth by the name of A New Day. Aside from her known acting roles in A Different World and Hangin’ With Mr. Cooper, Lewis had recurring roles on One Tree Hill, The Secret Life of the American Teenager and appeared in the 2006 film Dreamgirls.
Also lending her voice to many animations, Lewis has voiced characters on shows such as The Simpsons, Curious George, Futurama, and Doc McStuffins. Currently, the multi-talented actress can be seen in roles on TNT’s Major Crimes, the CW’s iZombie, and the recently launched Amazon pilot The Legend of Master Legend.
Now, the actress and producer is set to appear in three films — Coffee Klatch, Broken Heroes, and Love You to Death — all coming soon.