“A Different World” was and still is a classic African American sitcom and a staple for black television. Created by Bill Cosby and a NBC spinoff from “The Cosby Show,” “A Different World” was centered on The Huxtables’ daughter, Denise, and the life of students at Hillman College in Virginia, inspired by the student life at Howard University. For six seasons, the cast and characters became like our own family and it was a sad day when the series ended in 1993. Quiet as it’s kept; Whitley was our big sister in our head.
It’s been almost 23 years since the show was cancelled, so what has the cast been up to in recent years? Let’s take a stroll and see.
Known for her role as Denise Huxtable, the character “A Different World” was centered on, Bonet left the series after the first season, following her pregnancy announcement in 1988. Bonet welcomed her baby girl, Zoë Kravitz, that same year with her then husband, singer Lenny Kravitz. The couple divorced in 1993 and in 1997, Bonet married actor/model Jason Momoa with whom she has two children, Lola and Nakoa-Wolf Momoa. Over the years, Bonet starred in many films and television shows, including the current season of the hit comedy-drama series “Girls” on HBO. You can also catch Bonet and Zoë (who is now an actress) as the faces of the 2016 Calvin Klein Watches & Jewelry campaign. Did we mention how youthful Lisa Bonet is looking these days? At 48 years old, her and Zoë, 27, can pretty much pass for sisters. Pass the “fountain of youth” juice, please.
After Lisa Bonet’s departure, the series’ focus turned to the show’s southern belle, Whitley Gilbert, played by Jasmine Guy. Guy went on to land six NAACP Image Awards for her role from 1990 through 1995 for Outstanding Lead Actress in a Comedy Series. After nearly 20 years since the show’s final episode, Guy, who currently resides in Atlanta, is still going strong in the entertainment industry, pulling in movie and TV roles throughout the ’90s and 2000s. She even put on her director’s cap with stage plays I Dream in 2010 and The Colored Museum in 2011. Guy is currently starring as Shelia Bennett, a reoccurring character, on the CW’s hit show, “The Vampire Diaries.” You can also catch her on Disney’s “K.C. Undercover” alongside actress Zendaya and fellow A Different World co-star, Kadeem Hardison.
After her character Jalessa Vinson disappeared without explanation from “A Different World” in 1992, Dawnn Lewis kept her career moving right along with other TV appearances and ultimately landed a role as Robin Dumars for the first of the five seasons of “Hanging with Mr. Cooper,” alongside comedian Mark Curry and actress Holly Robinson Peete. Lewis has also done impressive voice work. She was the voice of Storm of the X-Men in three games, Granny Grim of “The Grim Adventures of Billy” and Mandy, plus a number of characters on “The Boondocks.” As of 2015, Lewis has had a recurring role on TNT’s series “Major Crime.” Earlier this year, Lewis joined the vocal cast of Disney Junior’s animated series “Doc McStuffins” as Grandma McStuffins.
With Dwayne Wayne becoming the primary focus alongside Whitley Gilbert, Kadeem Hardison went from co-star to star and became a household favorite. After “A Different World” ended in 1993, Hardison went on to star in several black sitcoms including “Living Single,” “Girlfriends,” “The Boondocks” and “Everybody Hates Chris.” His movies include Vampire in Brooklyn, White Men Can’t Jump and The Fantasia Barrino Story: Life Is Not a Fairytale on Lifetime. Hardison was married to R&B songstress Chante Moore from 1997 until 2000; they have a 20-year-old daughter together named Sophia. In 2015, Hardison locked in the lead role as Craig Cooper, K.C. Erie’s (played by Zendaya) dad on Disney’s “K.C. Undercover.”
Darryl M. Bell
For the most part, Darryl Bell aka Ron Johnson has kept a low profile after “A Different World.” He starred in “Living Single,” “Cosby” and “For Your Love” throughout the ’90s. In 2009, he appeared on “Househusbands of Hollywood” alongside girlfriend Tempestt Bledsode (Vanessa Huxtable) of “The Cosby Show.” The two have been in a 20-year-long committed relationship. Who knew?
Another cast member who kept a low profile after “A Different World” ended is Charnele Brown, best known for her role as Kimberly Reese. She has also guest starred on sitcoms “Living Single,” “Martin” and “Girlfriends.”
Best known for her role as Winifred “Freddie” Brooks, Cree Summer is one of the best and most popular voiceover actresses today. She’s provided the voices of some of our favorite animated characters including Penny in Inspector Gadget (we could be showing our age here), Elmyra Duff in Tiny Toon Adventures, Susie Carmichael on Rugrats and so many more. Currently, you can catch Cree as the voice of Bianca Bikini on Cartoon Network’s The Powerpuff Girls.
Jada Pinkett Smith
In 1991, Jada Pinkett Smith earned the role as Lena James, but landed a much bigger gig in 1994 as Peaches in the Keenen Ivory Wayans produced film, A Low Down Dirty Shame. Her acting in the film garnered positive reviews, pushing her to new levels in her career. With films like The Nutty Professor, Set It Off and The Matrix Reloaded under her belt, Pinkett-Smith sashayed her way into the A-list celebrity category alongside her superstar hubby Will Smith, who she married in 1997. The couple has two children, Jaden, 17, and Willow Smith, 15, and also Trey Smith from Will’s previous marriage. Jada and Will have joined forces in creating and producing sitcoms such as “All of Us” and Jada is currently starring as Fish Mooney on the Fox hit series “Gotham.”
It’s great to see everyone still putting in that work 20 years later!
Written By: Nicole Cunningham