Cast of ‘A Different World’ reunites on tour and makes a stop in DC

Cast of ‘A Different World’ reunites on tour and makes a stop in DC

The cast from the 90s hit show “A Different World” was in D.C. on Tuesday as part of a 10-city tour to historically Black colleges across the country. The event, called “Hillman Day at Howard,” not only celebrated the show and its contributions to HBCUs, it also focused on boosting enrollment at the schools.

“This is a perfect moment for us to uphold HBCUs and put a spotlight back on them so that people know how vital they are to our community,” said Cree Summer, who played Freddie Brooks on the show.

“A Different World,” which was on air between 1987 and 1993, was a spinoff of the Cosby Show that followed Denise Huxtable (Lisa Bonet) to Hillman College — a fictional, historically Black college located in Virginia.

Dawnn Lewis, who played Jaleesa Vinson — Taylor, said the show was able to put a prime time spotlight on the Black college experience.

“The experience of fellowship, of seeing yourself, being seen, appreciated or being encouraged in this kind of environment and nurtured amongst your own,” she said.

Jasmine Guy, who played Whitley Gilbert, said the show offered her a chance to be an artist.

“[Not having] to hold up the whole race because I’m the only Black character on the show, gave me a creative freedom that I hadn’t experienced before,” Guy said.

The show’s diverse cast allowed it to bring a variety of lifestyles in the Black community to TVs across the country.

“We are not a monolithic group of people,” Guy said.

The show also touched on difficult topics, such as racism and date rape. Kadeem Hardison, who played Dwayne Wayne, recalls an episode dealing with date rape, which included a discussion about that topic with Coach Walter Oakes (Sinbad).

“It taught me something. And I got to be vulnerable, because I really was looking for that knowledge. And I got it on the show,” Hardison said.

Glynn Turman, who played Col. Brad Taylor, said the show was also very popular because while tough topics were discussed, there were also laughs.

“I think we can lose sight of the fact that through all of this very heavy commentary that the show did tackle, there were great laughs, the show was fun. It was uplifting,” Turman said.

When asked if there would be a reboot of the show, Darryl M. Bell, who played Ron Johnson, said he used to respond to that question, “never.”

“Now, I say ‘never say never,'” Bells said.

After a press panel, the cast took part in a closed panel discussion with students at the college. Howard University was the second stop for the cast.

Leading into the Howard visit, the cast also accepted an invitation to the White House, which Summer said she enjoyed.

“I’m still flying to tell you the truth. When I come down from this levitation, I’ll let you know,” Summer joked.

The next stop for the cast will be this fall in Montgomery, Alabama, for an event hosted by Alabama State University and Tuskegee University.

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Mike Murillo

Mike Murillo is a reporter and anchor at WTOP. Before joining WTOP in 2013, he worked in radio in Orlando, New York City and Philadelphia.

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