In a world where we are not exactly sure what the hell is going on anymore, it's always refreshing to revisit the late, great classics of the earlier times. Whether throwing on a pair of sneakers for a double dutch match, sitting down to watch—and recite—all the words to Coming to America, or explaining pagers and floppy disks to Gen Z, there's something about each of them that never get old. And honestly, sometimes we just need them to center us back to good times (no pun intended).
But ultimately, we likely love to revisit some of our favorite shows that we grew up on the most. And although black sitcoms are somewhat-kind-of-not-really making a comeback, they just don't give off those cult classic vibes like they used to. I mean c'mon, The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air, In the House, The Parkers, Girlfriends, and more...damn, they all just make you feel a way, right?
Well, we needed some nostalgic comfort around the xoNecole offices, so we decided to do a bit of digging into one of our ultimate favorites: A Different World. More specifically, the entire A Different World cast.
Where are they now, how have our favorite school yard characters grown over time?
Here's what A Different World's cast up to today.
The Cast OfA Different World, Where Are They Now?
Lisa Bonet | Denise Huxtable
Lisa Bonet played the character of Denise Huxtable, second oldest to Cliff and Claire Huxtable of The Cosby Show. After graduating from high school, Denise packed her bags and headed to Hillman College to join A Different World's cast as a naive but spacey freshman for one season, which she spent most of her time navigating new situations and freedoms such as making new friends, grades, and dating. Denise's character departed the show after Lisa Bonet became pregnant with her now-famous daughter, Zoe Kravitz, with ex-husband, Lenny Kravitz.
Bonet briefly returned to The Cosby Show, but eventually departed for good after differences. Since, she has taken roles on shows such as Ray Donovan, and movies, like High Fidelity. Her personal life took more of a front seat to the career as she eventually divorced Kravitz in 1993, and married hunky Game of Thrones and Aquaman star, Jason Momoa in 2017. Together, they have two children: a daughter in 2007 and a son in 2008.
As for her daughter, Zoe, in a twist of fate, she plays the lead role in the adaption of High Fidelity series on Hulu.
Jasmine Guy | Whitley Marion Gilbert-Wayne
When it comes to show characters, no one was as breakthough, or memorable as Whitley Gilbert. She originally appeared on the show in Season 1 as a character to contrast Denise Huxtable's down-to-earth persona. But she soon proved popular and once Bonet exited the show, Guy was moved to a lead character. She remained on the show as an art buyer turned teacher, even upon graduating from Hillman, and married her off-and-on boyfriend, Dwayne Wayne.
Guy won multiple awards for her portrayal of Gilbert, which ultimately led to her career's longevity. She went on to have roles in shows like Melrose Place, NYPD Blue, The Vampire Diaries, and most recently, a recurring role as Gemma on Grey's Anatomy.
Kadeem Hardison | Dwayne Wayne
With his trademark flip up glasses, geeky-fly persona, and charisma, Dwayne Wayne was destined to become a pop culture icon. Originally a supportive ADifferent World cast member, after Season 1, he was bumped to a supreme spot. Once Season 2 arrived, he began an ongoing romance with Gilbert, later moved to Japan, became a teacher, and notoriously fought for his love for Gilbert through grand gesture in television's most beloved confession scenes.
Kadeem Hardison went on to be a breakout star from the show, and has gone on to have a successful career in television. He's been in multiple movies and television shows and even had a primetime reunion with Guy on KC Undercover. Today, he stars opposite of two Teenage Bounty Hunters, which airs on Netflix, as well as Special Delivery with Sideshow Collectibles on Instagram.
Dawnn Lewis | Jaleesa Vinson-Taylor
Jaleesa joined A Different World cast in Season 1 as a late arrival, enrolling in college at age 25. She brought a maturity to the cast, to balance the chaos of the likes of Wayne and Johnson. Her largest storyline was her relationship with Coach Oakes (Sinbad), but calling of the wedding at the alter. She went on to marry Colonel Bradley Taylor.
Dawnn Lewis was more than an actress, she was also an accomplished singer who co-wrote the theme song to the show, as well as the theme song to her next gig, Hanging With Mr. Cooper. Her resume is filled with various roles and movies, such as Dream Girls, and voiceover work with Futurama, Boondocks, Rick and Morty, and The Simpsons.
Today, she has taken on reboots of shows like Veronica Mars, and Netflix's Carmen San Diego.
Darryl M. Bell | Ron Johnson
Ron Jonhson, the comedic addition to the ADifferent World cast, stepped in to act as support to Dwayne Wayne's antics. He was an ROTC student, and Wayne's best friend who was always down for the ladies and a get-rich-quick scheme. He eventually opens his own nightclub, deals with a few dating and racism themes, and begins dating another prominent character on the show (Cree Summer).
Darryl M. Bell:
After A Different World, Bell went on to act in a few other shows, including Cosby, but eventually stepped away from acting altogether. He went on to marry Vanessa (Tempestt Bledsoe) of The Cosby Show and appeared on faux-reality show, House Husbands of Hollywood.
Outside of a few other appearances, he generally maintains a lowkey profile.
Cree Summer | Winifred "Freddie" Brooks
Possibly the most accomplished from ADifferent World cast member is Cree Summer. She portrayed Freddie Brooks, a social conscious and political activist who arrived on campus as Jaleesa's roommate. She spent her earlier time at Hillman crushing on Dwayne Wayne, but ended up developing a relationship with Shazza (Gary Dourdan) and then Ron. She went on to attend law school.
Cree didn't appear in many movies or shows in the physical form, but her voiceover resume is mind-blowing. Sis has worked on Inspector Gadget, Captain Planet, Kim Possible, and most famously, Rugrats. I could list her resume all day, but in the interest of saving time, if you've watched cartoons at all in the past 20 years, you've heard her voice.
Sinbad | Walter Oakes
Originally appearing as a recurring character, Coach Oakes' colorful and larger than life personality landed him a part of the main cast. He was a graduate student and mentor to the younger students, but gravitated toward the older Jaleesa for a storyline that would follow throughout the show. He eventually left Hillman to manage a community center in Philadelphia.
At the time of casting, David Adkins, a.k.a Sinbad was an unknown stand-up comedian. Over time, he began crushing the comedy scene with successful specials, and hosting It's Showtime at the Apollo. Sinbad has gone on to appear in many shows and movies, most recently Rel and voiceover work on Steven Universe.
Charnele Brown | Kimberly Reese
A Different World/Still
Upon Bonet's departure of the show, another character was added as Gilbert's roommate—and eventual best friends—to balance out the dynamic. She worked at the campus food hall, The Pit, and also performed in a few shows while being managed by Johnson. Her themes were a bit heavier at times, with references to the apartheid and difficulties of getting pregnant.
Charnele Brown went on to guest appear in numerous other classics such as Martin and Living Single.
Today, Brown has ventured into the world of film production and have appeared in a variety of other shows.
Glynn Turman | Colonel Bradford Taylor
Colonel Bradford Taylor:
Starting as a recurring character, but eventually being bumped up to join a full-time cast, member Colonel Taylor was Vietnam War vet and nicknamed Dr. War. He was over the ROTC unit at Hillman and became a math professor. He ended up marrying and a having children with Jaleesa.
Glynn Turman on the other hand, had been a industry vet for 25 years before ever joining A Different World cast. And like Cree, his resume is nothing to play with. If you've watch a movie or TV show within the last 30 years, you've seen Turman—from Black-ish, to How to Get Away With Murder, to Queen Sugar.
Also, Turman was briefly married to Aretha Franklin in the 80's, before divorcing in 1984.
Feature image by A Different World/Still
This article is in partnership with Sensodyne.
Our teeth are connected to so many things - our nutrition, our confidence, and our overall mood. We often take for granted how important healthy teeth are, until issues like tooth sensitivity or gum recession come to remind us. Like most things related to our bodies, prevention is the best medicine. Here are five things you can do immediately to improve your oral hygiene, prevent tooth sensitivity, and avoid dental issues down the road.
1) Go Easy On the Rough Brushing: Brushing your teeth is and always will be priority number one in the oral hygiene department. No surprises there! However, there is such a thing as applying too much pressure when brushing…and that can lead to problems over time. Use a toothbrush with soft bristles and brush in smooth, circular motions. It may seem counterintuitive, but a gentle approach to brushing is the most effective way to clean those pearly whites without wearing away enamel and exposing sensitive areas of the teeth.
2) Use A Desensitizing Toothpaste: As everyone knows, mouth pain can be highly uncomfortable; but tooth sensitivity is a whole different beast. Hot weather favorites like ice cream and popsicles have the ability to trigger tooth sensitivity, which might make you want to stay away from icy foods altogether. But as always, prevention is the best medicine here. Switching to a toothpaste like Sensodyne’s Sensitivity & Gum toothpaste specifically designed for sensitive teeth will help build a protective layer over sensitive areas of the tooth. Over time, those sharp sensations that occur with extremely cold foods will subside, and you’ll be back to treating yourself to your icy faves like this one!
3) Floss, Rinse, Brush. (And In That Order!): Have you ever heard the saying, “It’s not what you do, but how you do it”? Well, the same thing applies to taking care of your teeth. Even if you are flossing and brushing religiously, you could be missing out on some of the benefits simply because you aren’t doing so in the right order. Flossing is best to do before brushing because it removes food particles and plaque from places your toothbrush can’t reach. After a proper flossing sesh, it is important to rinse out your mouth with water after. Finally, you can whip out your toothbrush and get to brushing. Though many of us commonly rinse with water after brushing to remove excess toothpaste, it may not be the best thing for our teeth. That’s because fluoride, the active ingredient in toothpaste that protects your enamel, works best when it gets to sit on the teeth and continue working its magic. Rinsing with water after brushing doesn’t let the toothpaste go to work like it really can. Changing up your order may take some getting used to, but over time, you’ll see the difference.
4) Stay Hydrated: Upping your water supply is a no-fail way to level up your health overall, and your teeth are no exception to this rule. Drinking water not only helps maintain a healthy pH balance in your mouth, but it also washes away residue and acids that can cause enamel erosion. It also helps you steer clear of dry mouth, which is a gateway to bad breath. And who needs that?
5) Show Your Gums Some Love: When it comes to improving your smile, you may be laser-focused on getting your teeth whiter, straighter, and overall healthier. Rightfully so, as these are all attributes of a megawatt smile; but you certainly don’t want to leave gum health out of the equation. If you neglect your gums, you’ll start to notice the effects of plaque buildup, which can irritate the gums and cause gingivitis, the earliest stage of gum disease. Seeing blood while brushing and flossing is a tell-tale sign that your gums are suffering. You may also experience gum recession — a condition where the gum tissue surrounding your teeth pulls back, exposing more of your tooth. Brushing at least twice a day with a gum-protecting toothpaste like Sensodyne Sensitivity and Gum, coupled with regular dentist visits, will keep your gums shining as bright as those pearly whites.
The first big leap was moving to a new city and getting settled into my new home. The next big leap? Was finding community and belonging. Moving to a new city excited me! I looked forward to having my own apartment, decorating it, and exploring what the city had to offer. I also found excitement in the thought of meeting new people and expanding my connections. When it actually came down to it, I felt nervous. I heard that making new friends as an adult can be hard because we all have different responsibilities and schedules that may not align. I knew in order for me to really feel at home in my new city, I had to create community.
Having a community of people who I can share memories with, lean on in times of need, and inspire each other is something I always valued. I took a moment to truly center in on what I desired from the new friends I would make. Then I realized it all would have to start with me. I had to be centered and confident in who I was to attract who I desired to be aligned with. As someone who moved to a new city and established quality friendships, I gathered these six tips that helped me feel grounded and create community in hopes that it will help you, too.
6 tips to start building community and making new friends in a new city:
Sean Anthony Eddy/ Getty Images
Be true to yourself
Do you know who you are? If someone asked you to describe yourself in three words, what words would you use? In order to develop deep friendships, you must be a friend to yourself first. Know what refuels you and what zaps your energy. Self-study your habits and why you do the things you do. All this will be important to keep in mind when looking to create bonds with others. Every day there’s all kinds of people telling you who you should be, how you should act, or what you should wear. At the end of the day, the only opinion about yourself that truly matters is your own. Spend some alone time with yourself indoors or out at an event you like to truly discover who you are in this season of your life.
Pray about it
Before you step out into the world and cross paths with all kinds of people, it’s important to pray about building your community. God outlines what true friendship looks like in numerous Bible verses such as "Iron sharpens iron." - Proverbs 27:17 and “Two people are better off than one, for they can help each other succeed.” - Ecclesiastes 4:9-12. If you desire friendships that last, pray about what you seek in friendship. I remember praying for mentally stable, happy, and whole women who moved through life with abundance mindsets. Take a moment to journal about the community you want to build and then pray on it.
Go to fun events to meet people who share your interests
Most metropolitan cities like Washington, D.C., New York City, and Atlanta are known to have strong young professional communities and events where you can connect with others. I highly encourage you to attend events in or near your community to see what the city is like and meet people. It’s likely that the people at the event have the same interests as you, which is a great way to start a conversation. You can start by searching for events on Eventbrite or following Instagram pages that highlight events happening in your city.
Carlos Barquero/ Getty Images
Accept that you won’t be compatible with everyone you meet
While living in your new city, it’s likely you’ll meet a variety of people. Please know that everyone you meet will not bud into lasting friendships, and that’s okay! You are uniquely created and not made for everyone. Then you’ll meet people who are good for only surface-level connections, and then you’ll have your girls who you can get deep with. I think sometimes people can look down on surface-level friendships, but not everyone needs to fully know you. That’s a privilege to have and to accept within yourself. Continue to check in with yourself and be real about who you crave to spend more time with and who is nice to see for a monthly or quarterly catch-up.
Join Facebook groups & GroupMe chats
If you haven’t used Facebook in a couple of years, it’s time to dust your profile off. Facebook Groups is a great place to join online communities for people who just moved to a new city like you. Typically, you have to agree to the group’s guidelines, and then you can join. For example, you can search for groups in the Facebook app by using keywords like women, Black girl, or [the name of your city] foodies. With the GroupMe app, you’ll have to be invited to join an already existing group. While you’re out and about networking, don’t hesitate to ask if they’re in any online groups/communities they recommend you join too.
Be friendly to folks in your neighborhood
When I first moved to my new apartment, I spent the first week walking around the complex and working in the community spaces to get a better feel of it. I was able to meet people in my neighborhood, enjoy small talk, and learn more about what the community has to offer. Step outside of your comfort zone and work in your apartment’s community space or a local coffee shop to connect with others.
Overall, you may feel alone in your new city, but I guarantee you’re not. There are other people experiencing living in a new city too, and all you need to do is find each other. I hope these tips help ease the nervous feelings you have about building a new community and inspire you to make a new friend today!
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Feature image by Nappy/ Pexels