Jaleel White Speaks on Dancing With the Stars Experience
Resurrecting Steve Urkel, or more accurately Stefan Urquelle, was not a small deal for Jaleel White.
On Dancing With the Stars last week, the 35-year-old, former Family Matters star and his fellow cast members were asked to perform a routine inspired by the most memorable year of their lives.
For White, that year was when his now-legendary geek character created his smooth alter ego.
"I never touch any of my old characters; I leave them vaulted," White told TV Fanatic last week. "I knew the tabloids would have some fun with it, but it was emotional and I felt a lot of pressure to dance well."
Playing the part with which he achieved fame as a teenager was difficult enough, but the actor admits struggling with the media (specifically tabloid) attention paid to his appearance on the show this season.
"It was intense. What was supposed to be an uplifting tribute, but felt more like something that I survived," he said of the dance and emotional post-dance interview, during which he couldn't stop the tears from flowing.
With the exception of the tabloid feeding frenzy, White is loving the experience, praising partner Kym Johnson and fellow colleagues ranging from Gladys Knight to "one man Bachelorette party" William Levy.
White noted how much fun it is for him that both Knight and the father of Disney star Roshon Fegan (DWTS' youngest cast member this season at age 20) played his parents in roles when he was a boy.
Regarding his past, present and future career, White says he's grateful just to work in an industry he loves, every day, listing William Shatner as a role model for spanning so many decades in entertainment.
"I have so much respect for the way this business works and for the opportunities I've been given," he said. "Everything is generational, and I look forward to hopefully introducing myself to a new generation of fans."
To that end, White is living the dream. In addition to DWTS, he spoke fondly of his role on Psych and of his new Syfy competition show Total Blackout, in which real people face extreme challenges in complete darkness.
That show premieres Wednesday, April 25. More immediately, White and the rest of Dancing With the Stars' 10 remaining competitors take to the parquet for the show's Rock Week performances this evening on ABC.
Even admittedly difficult tabloid scrutiny can't temper White's enthusiasm.
"This is all part of a greater journey that God has me on," he said. "I all can do is persevere and, hopefully, just keep nailing these dances!"