Over the years, we’ve heard stories about tension on the set of ‘90s comedy Family Matters. When the focus of the show shifted from the middle class Winslow family to whatever wild shenanigans Steve Urkel was up to, it didn’t help foster a great working environment.
In an interview with Entertainment Tonight, series star JoMarie Payton, who played Harriet for nine seasons, is opening up about the time Steve Urkel himself—Jaleel White—allegedly wanted to fight her on set. The actress says the incident happened during Season 9 Episode 10, “Original Gangsta Dawg,” where White wanted to do something in the scene that wouldn’t make it past standards and practices.
“There was something that he wanted to do and I said ‘We can’t do that, standards and practices will not let that pass. It’s not gonna happen.’ He wanted to do it anyway,” she said. “He was so mad, he started kicking and screaming and stuff.”
From here, things get crazier, as Payton “walked off” while White was muttering something that she had to get co-star Darius McCrary to explain.
“He said something about, ‘She must want to melee.’ I said, ‘What’s a melee?’ He said, ‘a fight.’ I turned around—if he wanna fight, I would,” she told ET. “Darius grabbed me. I was gonna whip his behind.”
White didn’t comment on Entertainment Tonight’s story, but in a 2021 episode of Uncensored, the actor said, “I was not welcomed to the cast at all. They know what it was.” In response, Payton told ET, “He needs to get over whatever it is that’s biting him.”
Well, I can’t speak to Jaleel White’s etiquette on set, but if this is true, and he really wanted to fight JoMarie Payton, that shows a complete lack of respect for your elders. And just a quick reminder: it was Harriet who started this all on Perfect Strangers. Her character on that series was the catalyst for what would eventually become Family Matters. So show some respect for Harriet Winslow.