Jaleel White is known most for his role of Steve Urkel from ABC’s TV series “Family Matters”. Jaleel has a whole lot going on today when he is not writing, he is starring in his web series “Fake It Till You Make It”, starring in SyFy’s “Mega Shark vs Crocosaurus” or working on his production company. Movie Mikes had a chance to chat with Jaleel about what he has been up to recently.
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Mike Gencarelli: Firstly, I would like to ask you about your film “Mega Shark vs Crocosaurus”?
Jaleel White: [laughs] What do you want to know about it man? [laughs]…that is my mix tape. Do you want to know how fast we shot it? or do you want to know what food we did not have on set? [laughs]
MG: How did you end up getting involved with that movie?
JW: I have a policy with my manager, when it comes to acting…I do what I am told. There is a lunch pail…hard hat…construction worker aspect to being an actor. When he sent me the script, he called me shortly after and I asked him “What time of movie is it?” He told me not even to read it and just trust him. He said that a lot of people watch these type of movies [laughs]. I went to Youtube and watched the clips from the first film “Mega Shark vs. Giant Octopus”. I saw how many millions of people have watched these clips. Now I did a web series last year that kicked some real butt. Hulu was so happy with it, it was ridiculous. We had between 600-700K hits and Hulu considered that a premium hit for the site. So when I am asked why I get involved with a projects like this my answer is simple. The Sci-Fi world has dictated that their is an audience for it.
MG: Tell us about the shooting schedule for the film?
JW: We went out there and shot it in a couple of weeks. It was a helter-skelter schedule. In one day we honestly shot [paused]…18 pages. I keep looking at the director and he was looking at me and said “Just keep going”. He wasn’t even saying action, he was just saying “And…keep going!” In the entertainment business it has become a numbers game. I have never played a soldier or naval officer before, this was my first time. For me personally, it was stepping outside of the box, I enjoyed it. Hopefully I was able to add something to the film.
MG: Tell us a little bit about your web series “Fake It Till You Make It”?
JW: It was really fun. “Fake It” is about three Hollywood hustlers trying to make it to the top but they aren’t particularly good at anything. They run into my character, Reggie Culkin, who makes L.A. look so easy. He is handing out shinny business cards, he drives a different car every day and wears too much Ed Hardy. It was such a fun character. We originally didn’t think we were going to get a higher platform that YouTube but we got in touch with Hulu and they loved it. We had a blast with it. We had great cameos like Wayne Brady. You will basically see someone famous in every episode. I cut my hair to a mohawk, I really went all out.
MG: Any chance we are going to see more episode of “Fake It Till You Make It”?
JW: I don’t know. We have been talking to some sponsors. We have to see if the features that we are working on are going to get in the way. I will definitely be making an announcement on my Facebook page and my personal website to let the people know. I actually have had a lot of people even hit me up on Twitter about it. I enjoy Twitter a lot. But there definitely has been interest in more episodes. So I would like to but I am going to need a couple of weeks to get the mohawk back though [laughs]. So when I find out, you’ll find out!
MG: Tell us about your production company, Sweet Irony Productions?
JW: Due to the success of the web series, it really helped launched my production company last year. We are planning on producing our own films now. We actually have two films going into production this year. One is a low-budget deal but the other is a big one. I am keeping my fingers crossed, this one might even end up in theaters.
MG: When did you realize that you wanted to write screenplays?
JW: I’ve been writing for years since “Family Matters” in fact. I have been writing since I was 18-19 years old. I actually worked with them on writing some of the episodes in the final season of “Family Matters”. I went to UCLA film school and I knew this was what I wanted to do. You just got to be patient and hang in there.
MG: Do you enjoy writing more than acting?
JW: It is a combination man. I really enjoy watching other actors getting a chance to do the work that I write. That is my number one joy.
MG: How did you originally get involved with voicing “Sonic The Hedgehog”?
JW: Again…that is hilarious, that was a product of what I mean that you get jobs because you are famous. What happened was “Sonic the Hedgehog” premiered on ABC, which was the same as “Family Matters”, in its initial run. In order to get the show greenlit, they needed an ABC star…so they came over to me. That is just something that created its own audience. So here we are years and years later and I am still regarded as THE definitive voice of Sonic the Hedgehog. I got that job just because I was one of ABC’s biggest stars at the time.
MG: How do you feel about TV shows today?
JW: Well TV has evolved man. I grew up with “The Cosby Show” and kids these days are growing up with the Kardashians [laughs]. Literally, I asked a ten year old girl, “What is your favorite TV show?” and she looks at me with a straight face and tells me “Jersey Shore”. It really makes you stand back and realize that times have changed. I can’t beat “Jersey Shore” and I do not think that the Kardashians are looking for a guest spot from me. I will get in where I can and times will continue to change. I have no doubt I will always have a place in the prism. Right now “Jersey Shore” is what they want to see.
MG: I remember sitting down to watch ABC Friday night with my family ever week, it seems like that is no more.
JW: Hell no. Well that is part of the problem. You are going to have the six year old on the iPad, Dad will be on the computer, the teenage girl on the Blackberry and the son on his XBOX [laughs].
MG: Anything else you got going that you want to chat about?
JW: Watch “Fake It Till You Make It” on Hulu. If you are into Sci-Fi, “Mega Shark vs Crocosaurus” will give you a kick. I got projects going on left and right. I am just trying to entertain people in a wholesome way and keep it moving.
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