Jasmine Guy, Kadeem Hardison reflect on ‘A Different World’ relevance to today
Reunited on a video call, they talked about how the issues shown on the iconic HBCU-set "A Different World" still matter
Jasmine Guy and Kadeem Hardison recently sat down to talk about the legendary romance of their iconic characters, Whitley Gilbert and Dwayne Wayne, from NBC’s memorable series A Different World, the famous Cosby Show spinoff.
In an exclusive interview with Entertainment Tonight, the pair reunited in a video call, on which they talked about how the issues of the iconic HBCU-set show are still relevant.
“Back in the day when it was still fresh, the best compliment I could get was, at the gas station, ‘My grandbaby wants to be an engineer because of you,’ and that’ll always kind of be the pinnacle,” Hardison shared, reflecting on the responses he got from fans.
He continued, “Then I’d meet somebody who I admired, like [rapper and producer] 9th Wonder, and he would tell me how I taught him about sneakers. I taught him how to dress. I was his inspiration to go to an HBCU and follow his dream and that it was okay to not be a certain type of dude.”
In their discussion, the actors remarked on how, for A Different World‘s season six “Honeymoon in L.A.” episode, their characters traveled to Los Angeles after their nuptials, recalling that the visit coincided with the acquittal of the four LAPD officers charged with beating Rodney King. The moving two-part episode in late 1992 focused on the emotional upheaval the acquittal caused in the Black community, and Guy noted it would still be relevant today.
“I don’t think that we changed the world with the riots episode, but we did acknowledge how it affected all of us,” she said. “See, when things were happening in the outside world, it was happening to us, personally. I remember when Darryl [M. Bell, who played Ron Johnson] got locked up for some kind of parking ticket; I remember when another actor on our show got stopped, head to the pavement, because of some tinted glass.”
Guy added that if the series, which debuted in 1987, was still airing today, it would be dealing with still-relevant issues of police brutality.
“And I know … we would be dealing with it as it was happening, but those shows were the hardest ones to produce,” she said. “People asked why we wanted that heavy stuff on our little comedy show, but we could always be funny. That’s what I kept saying. The deeper you go, we will find a place to make it funny.”
Guy and Hardison recently reunited with their A Different World castmates in a new series, Reunion Road Trip, on which they discuss the iconic sitcom and its lasting impact.
“And I think for some people that grew up with us, we were their friends,” Guy contended, saying the show brought a number of tough topics to the forefront of conversation in Black America. “I think we brought, into the family room, things that are difficult to talk about with young children.”
As previously reported by TheGrio, director-dancer Debbie Allen shared that a reboot of the show stalled after its creator, Bill Cosby, was convicted of sexual assault and sentenced to prison.
“There’s a studio and network situation where they can’t allow any money to go into his company. I said, ‘Can’t we contribute it to schools or something?’” said Allen. “But you can’t take somebody’s name off of a show. A Different World needs to have a second life, and we know how to do it. I was so close to doing it with Issa Rae.”