What is Jaleel White Doing Since ‘Dancing With the Stars’?

Celebrity Q&A
on December 8, 2012
Total Blackout - Season 1

What is Jaleel White doing since he didn’t make the cut for the All-Stars season of “Dancing With the Stars”?
—Jodi Patterson, Henderson, Nev.

White, 36, is the host of Syfy’s “Total Blackout,” an extreme game show in which contestants battle each other and their fears in a series of challenges played in complete darkness. It is his first-ever job as the emcee of a series—and he landed it because he starred in “Mega Shark Versus Crocosaurus” for the channel.

“I remember looking at my manager cross-eyed when he asked me to even do the movie,” the Pasadena, Calif.-born actor/screenwriter says. “He was, ‘Jaleel, just do it.’ That’s the way he talks, so I did the darn movie, it got great ratings, and the rest is history.”

It wasn’t quite that easy. White, who holds a degree from U.C.L.A. in film and television, did have to audition for the job. He went in and read from a teleprompter, but then they made him hold a tarantula while doing it to check his fear level.

White is best known for playing Steve Urkel on “Family Matters.”

Despite recent guest starring roles on “NCIS,” “Psych” and “House,” it was difficult for a time after “Family Matters” for White to land acting roles. As a result, he started doing voiceover work, and he has done the voice of Sonic the Hedgehog for three different “Sonic the Hedgehog” series. But he says he has no regrets.

“I think at the end of the day, it’s important to be known by people and then just be good at what you do,” he says. “When I did ‘Dancing With the Stars,’ people were amazed that I could dance. Now, I have a million women coming up to me in the streets, telling me that they really enjoyed me on the show and wondering if I’ll be back. They wouldn’t even be curious or care if not for what I’d done in my past.”

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