The Winslow’s were one of America’s favorite TV families in the ’90s—and there’s no doubt that they still are today. For nine years, Laura, Eddie, Carl, Harriette, Steve and Mother Winslow entertained kids and their parents on Friday nights, and had teenage girls coming back for more…Stefan Urkel. But as many may have hoped for more, the show couldn’t last forever.
The Chicago-based family said goodbye to audiences across the country during the summer of 1998. For a short period of time, the cast members may have wondered what could possibly be next, but most didn’t have to wait for long. From multiple sitcoms to daytime TV and life on the big screen, Kellie Shangyne Williams, Darius McCrary, Reginald VelJohnson, JoMarie Patyon and Rosetta LeNoire were ultimately set for life. As all cast members may not have gone to win an Oscar or an Emmy, the each excelled in their own right.
All stepping through the doors of the CW or CBS, the Winslows were in it for the long haul, whatever it was. So in case fans have forgotten just how far they made it, Black Enterprise is coming to you like Mary J. Blige and giving the 411 on the cast of Family Matters—it’s where they are now!
Kellie Shangyne Williams aka Laura Winslow
Since saying goodbye to the set of Family Matters in 1998, Kellie Shanygne Williams has made her share of television appearances and acquired a handful of movie roles. Exactly four months after bidding her TV family farewell on the small screen, Williams reappeared on Moesha for the second time, November 17, 1998. After that she made several recurring cameos on some of UPN’s (now the CW) primetime lineup including, The Parkers, Eve and Girlfriends. In 2005, the woman once known to the world as Laura Winslow took a role in the Usher dance/romance flick, In The Mix (2005) as Cami. Four years later, Williams returned to the big screen as Cee Cee in Steppin’: The Movie (2009), alongside former cast mate, Darius McCrary.
It’s said that the Washington D.C.-born actress started an organization called the Kellie Williams Program in 2006, giving young students in the chance to produce a TV show for Comcast’s local On-Demand channel in her hometown. In 2007, Williams was recognized by the Educators Serving the Community Awards for her program. Unfortunately, the Capitol-based organization is no longer active.
After giving her now husband, Hannibal Jackson, the ultimatum of making her his girlfriend in 2003—the two met and spent ample time together, and two weeks later Kellie said, “You’re either my boyfriend, or this is the last time we’re going to talk.”—the God-fearing couple walked down the aisle of Ebenezer AME Church in Fort Washington in 2009. Williams and Hannibal now have two children.
Darius McCrary aka Eddie Winslow
Darius McCrary was known for his many talents on Family Matters, especially his singing, so it was no surprise that the California actor was cast as the lead role in the 2000 made-for-TV movie, Something to Sing About. Showing off his vocal range to its full extent, McCrary gave hope to many his with melodic gospel sounds as he acted alongside former Sister, Sister star, Tamera Mowry-Housley. The following year, the boy America knew as Eddie hit big screen with a star-studded cast including LL Cool J, Jada Pinkett Smith, Vivica A. Fox, Loretta Devine, Whoopi Goldberg, Toni Braxton and a handful of others in Kingdom Come (2001).
Like Kellie Shangyne Williams, Darius also made several appearances on UPN (now the CW) as his Family Matter days. In 2003 he guest starred on Girlfriends as Toni’s brother Antione. Three years later, he made a few cameos on Eve as Jamal. Since 2006, the 36-year-old Renaissance man has appeared in four studio films (Transformers, 2007; Next Day Air, 2009; Steppin’: The Movie, 2009; and Saw VI, 2009); picked up a role next to former co-star Bryton James (Richeie) on The Young & The Restless; and taken on more than five TV and second-tier films. In all, McCrary has been nominated for a Young Artist Award five times in his career, and continues to excel on the Hollywood front.
Jaleel White aka Steve Urkel
Contrary to perpetual rumors circulating once a year surrounding Jaleel White’s untimely death, the annoying kid from next door is alive and kicking—and doing it very well. After closing the doors to ABC’s studio more than a decade ago, and getting killed by the Net, White made several television and movie appearances, and went on to receive a degree in film and television at UCLA.
When rumors were heavy about the child star no longer living, Jaleel put the chatter to rest when he appeared in Dream Girls (2006) as a talent booker. While the role was small, the question of life or death was no longer relevant. The 36-year-old showed up again in 2007 on the set of The Game. As he made multiple cameos in smaller roles throughout the years, but most recently found himself on Fox’s House in 2011 with Omar Epps. Although it was a one-time appearance, White began to pop up everywhere after his House debut.
In the past two years, Jaleel has been spotted on TV One’s Love That Girl, and USA’s NCIS and Psych. The back-to-life actor also made his way to the set of Dancing With the Stars last spring, but was kicked off after 12 episodes.
After nine years on the set of Family Matters, Reginald VelJohnson didn’t take any time off to catch a breath. Just months after wrapping the ABC-family series, TV’s favorite dad guest starred on an episode of Diagnosis Murder, the old medical murder drama on CBS. Between 1999 and 2009, VelJohnson appeared on 14 different television shows including Monk, Crossing Jordan, The Hughley’s, Will & Grace and CSI: Crime Scene Investigation.
In 2010, the Carl Winslow personality followed in the footsteps of his other Darius McCrary and Bryton James, and accepted roles on two soap operas: The Bold and the Beautiful (2010) and General Hospital (2012). But Reginald’s daytime TV spots were short-lived as he took on the role of Brother Heywood on the CBS sitcom, Mike & Molly, in 2011. VelJohnson now stars on the CW’s Hart of Dixie alongside Rachel Bilson, best known as Summer from The O.C.
Like her other co-stars, JoMarie Patyon’s stomping ground may have been the suburbs of Chicago, but that was just the beginning of what her career had in store. While filming Family Matters, Harriette Winslow simultaneously guest starred on UPN’s (now the CW) five-season sitcom, Moesha (1996 – 1999), as Hakeem’s mother. One year after saying goodbye to the ’90s series, Payton acquired a recurring role on Will & Grace for one season as Mrs. Freeman.
Over the next five years, the ABC’s loving mother took on more than 10 roles between film and televsion—the most remembered being her voice as Suga Mama in Disney Channel’s The Proud Family (2001 – 2005). In addition to the four-season-series, JoMarie also served as the voice of Suga Mama in The Proud Family Movie (2005). While the actress has not had any repeat roles since the Disney Channel cartoon, Payton has appeared on several primetime sitcoms including Desperate Housewives and Meet the Browns. The 62-year-old currently gearing up for her latest TV series, The Rev.
Outside of her acting career, Payton explored the world of music and released her solo jazz album, Southern Shadows, in March 1999.
Rosetta LeNoire aka Estelle Winslow
A few months after walking off the set of Family Matters for the last time, Rosetta LeNoire starred alongside Phylicia Rashaad, Doug E. Doug and Bill Cosby in an episode of Cosby—the modern version of The Cosby Show—called the “Playground Scar.” That was the last time the New York actress ever appeared on a big or small screen.
Many remember Telma Hopkins as Laura and Eddie’s Aunt Rachel, but two years after leaving Family Matters, the Louisville, Kentucky native showed up on the big screen as Slim’s mother in the MTV flick, The Wood (1999). And while having several recurring cameos on shows such as The Hughleys and Any Day Now, Telma returned to her own television sitcom in the 2002 as Phyllis Thorne in the CW’s Half & Half. She remained on the show for its entirety, which sadly came to an end in 2006.
Like the rest of the Family Matters cast, Hopkins took on a number of small TV roles in her down time but returned to the small screen in 2010 for the television adaptation of Ice Cube’s 2005 film, Are We There Yet? The show went off the air in 2012.