Award-winning dancer, singer, actress, author and choreographer Jasmine Guy adds the title of theater director to her résumé. She’s calling the shots behind the scenes of an Atlanta production of Ntozake Shange’s 1975 “For Colored Girls Who Have Considered Suicide When The Rainbow Is Enuf.”
Guy, left, Lisa Bonet, Marisa Tomei, Dawnn Lewis and Kadeem Hardison introduced the Black college experience to America on the sitcom “A Different World.”
“I learned to appreciate the influence and impact that show had on people,” says Guy. “I didn’t realize how we were influencing young people to go to college; I learned about that later, when I did speaking engagements.”
Guy and Hardison kept audiences tuned in with their electric chemistry as on-screen couple Whitley Gilbert and Dwayne Wayne.
“The Whitley fame has been good for me as far as opening doors,” she says.
The “Different World” cast works the red carpet at the People’s Choice Awards in 1988.
“I loved the family atmosphere and the fun that we had on and off camera. We laughed so much,” she says.
Guy beams on set with her “A Different World” costars Lou Myers, left, Cree Summer and Hardison. Guy’s real-life father, Rev. William Guy, center, also got in on the fun.
Guy and Hardison during the early days of the show.
Actress, dancer, choreographer, and “A Different World” director Debbie Allen and Guy attend the Academy Awards in Los Angeles in 1991.
Dancing will always claim a special spot in Guy’s heart.
“A Different World” included characters from various walks of life, including Guy’s Whitley, a spoiled, whiny-voiced princess.
Guy and costar Jada Pinkett Smith celebrate the shows one-hundredth episode in 1991.
Growing up with a Black dad, Rev. William Guy, and white mom, Guy says she didn’t endure identity issues as some children of mixed heritage do.
“I grew up in Atlanta where there was so much of a positive Black influence on us. We grew up being proud,” she says. “Now it’s different. People embrace both sides of their heritage. I didn’t grow up that way. There wasn’t a biracial box—especially in the South. You were either Black or White.”
Guy lights up the stage performing “All That Jazz” in the Broadway show “Chicago.”
“Going back to Broadway for me was the biggest help in getting my art back,” she says of life after “A Different World.”
Guy travels often with daughter Imani, 9.
“I just try to be with her as much as possible. She’s very adaptable,” says Guy. “We get her books and homework and she works in the corner. She meets people on the set. She’s learning about the world.”
Guy and her “Dead Like Me” costars explored life after death on the defunct Showtime series.