Keshia Knight Pulliam
At age 6, Keshia Knight Pulliam became the youngest actress to be nominated for an Emmy for her role as cute Rudy Huxtable on The Cosby Show (1984). However with her Cosby days behind her, the former child star has since received a Bachelor’s in Sociology and is a member of the Delta Sigma Theta Sorority Inc at Spelman College. In 2008, Pulliam joined the cast of Tyler Perry’s House of Payne where she plays a con artist, a role that earned her a NAACP Image Award.
“Did I do that?” No one can forget Family Matters (1989-1998) Steve Urkel, the uber nerdy, socially awkward neighbor to the Winslows. Not only did the show establish Jaleel White as a star, it made him one of the most popular characters in TV history. Over the years, White has managed to outgrow his typecast image, receiving smaller roles in films like Big Fat Liar and Dreamgirls. While the sitcom legend continues to act, he has also lent his voice towards several animated projects including towards video game series character Sonic the Hedgehog.
Everyone remembers Raven-Symoné from The Cosby Show. She played Olivia Kendall, Denise Huxtable’s adorable stepdaughter. Although those days are well behind her, the actress continues to conquer the world of entertainment appearing in a slew of TV and film series such as the ABC Family TV movie Revenge of the Bridesmaids and College Road Trip co-starring Martin Lawrence. In 2009, the actress announced she was working on an R&B album.
Gary Coleman and Todd Bridges
Coleman and Bridges will likely forever be known as Arnold and Willis Jackson from the hit NBC sitcom Diff’rent Strokes (and their subsequent legal woes), which made catchphrases like “What you talkin’ ‘bout Willis?” famous. Coleman has continued to make guest-starring appearances in TV and films like My Wife and Kids and An American Carol. Bridges, who became the first African-American child actor to have a recurring role on a successful TV series, The Waltons, recently appeared on The Smoking Gun Presents: World’s Dumbest and See Dick Run.
Best known for her role as the lovable Tootie Ramsey on the popular NBC sitcom The Facts of Life, Kim Fields went on to play Regine Hunter on another well-known sitcom, Fox’s Living Single. These days however Fields can be seen working behind the camera as the director of Tyler Perry’s Meet the Browns and Tyler Perry’s House of Payne.
Tia and Tamera Mowry
Sister, Sister’s real-life twin sisters Tia (right) and Tamera Mowry (left) won over millions of fans with their wholesome good humor. While Tia currently portrays a medical student on the CW comedy-drama series The Game, in 2009 Tamera starred in the ABC Family sitcom Roommates.
He played Corey, Julia Baker’s young son on the groundbreaking 1968 NBC sitcom Julia, which was considered the first series to portray African-Americans, and African-American women in particular, in a non-stereotypical way. While the child star has also appeared on Sanford and Son and Diff’rent Strokes, in more recent years Copage portrayed a lawyer in Disney’s The Kid (2000).
Best known for his semi-regular role as Rudy Huxtable’s childhood friend Kenny a.k.a. “Bud” on The Cosby Show, Deon Richmond made an appearance in the Kool & the Gang video for “Cherish.” However his most recent TV appearances include NBC’s Teachers (2006) and films such as Scream 3, Van Wilder and Not Another Teen Movie.
She played the quintessential Beverly Hills rich girl in her role as Lisa Turtle on the hit teen sensation Saved by the Bell(1989-1993). Over the years, Voorhies reinvented her career appearing in soap operas including NBC’s Days of Our Lives and CBS’ The Bold and the Beautiful. Not only was the actress recently rumored to play the legendary Whitney Houston in her biopic, but she is reportedly pursuing a career in music.
She has made appearances on Hangin with Mr. Cooper and Cosby (1996), but it was her role as Denise Frazer, Michelle Tanner’s spunky friend on Full House, that most people remember her by. An advocate of HIV/AIDS awareness, particularly in Africa, Smollett continues to appear in TV and films including The Great Debaters where she acted alongside Denzel Washington.
Bryton Eric McClure
He is best known to audiences as playing Richie, Rachel Crawford’s (played by Telma Hopkins) cute, curly-haired son on Family Matters. In 2000, McClure pursued a singing career debuting his first single “Ooh, The Way I Feel About You.” Now in his early 20s, McClure has returned to acting taking on a more mature role playing Devon Hamilton on the CBS soap opera The Young and the Restless, which recently earned him a 2009 NAACP Image Award for Outstanding Actor in a Daytime Drama Series.
Before playing Ashley Banks on the very popular sitcom The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air (1990), Brooklyn native Tatyana Ali, was a regular child performer on Sesame Street and performed twice on Star Search. In 1998, she released Kiss the Sky, with her second album slated for release sometime this year. The multi-talented actress and singer also holds a reoccurring role on The Young and the Restless and can currently be seen in Love That Girl.
Most people remember him as the spoiled rich-kid who played Carlton Banks on The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air and for his role on the 80s classic Silver Spoons. Either way, there is no doubt that Alfonso Ribeira is a multi-talented performer. Not only can he act, sing and dance to everything from Tom Jones’ “It’s Not Unusual” or imitate Michael Jackson’s moonwalk dance, but he has also been known to direct episodes of Tyler Perry’s Meet the Browns. Ribeiro was recently the frequent host on the Game Show Network.
Known for her award winning songs like “I Wanna Be Down” and “Baby,” Brandy is not only a successful singer, she is also a dancer and an actress most notably remembered for her role in the 1996 UPN sitcom Moesha. Despite the show’s end in 2001, Brandy continues to guest star in film and TV including the pilot This Little Piggy, and she is slated to appear in a new reality TV series entitled Brandy and Ray J: A Family Business, featuring her brother Ray J. She and her brother are also expected to collaborate on a album tentatively titled R&B.
Kenan Thompson and Kel Mitchell
Who can forget the hilarious comedic duo Kenan and Kel starring Kenan Thompson and Kel Mitchell? Although the pair have gone their separate ways, both continue to act. While Thompson can be seen impersonating everyone from Al Roker to Whoopi Goldberg on NBC’s Saturday Night Live, Mitchell continues to make appearances in TV and films including Nite Tales: The Series and Chicago Pulaski Jones.
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For many young stars, the transition from child star to leading actor or actresses can be extremely difficult. Still, some have managed to reinvent their careers in ways that may surprise you. In this slideshow, theGrio looks back at some of our favorite pint-size television stars to see how they’ve changed over time, and what they’re up to now.