Jaleel White (born November 27, 1976 in Pasadena, California) is an American actor, who starred as Steve Urkel on the TV series Family Matters from 1990 to 1998.
White got his start on TV commercials and guest starring roles on different shows. He was considered for a main character role on the NBC Saturday morning sitcom Saved by the Bell, but lost out to other actors. He appeared on Family Matters as simply a guest star, but received a standing ovation for his performance and the chants of "Urkel! Urkel!" by a group of college fraternity brothers who where in the studio audience. He created the role of Urkel, as he was called, by borrowing his dad's dental glasses (White's dad was a dentist), hiking up his pants, bending his knees, and talking in a high-pitched tone. He was given a full-time starring role, and soon became a favorite TV character during the run of the series.
By the show's final season, he was commanding $100,000 per episode. Unfortunately, White was so tightly defined around Urkel's appearance and performance that it became hard for him to get other roles after the show's run completed. White was over 6 feet tall towards the latter part of the show's run, and was disallowed from weightlifting and required to shave immediately before filming each show in order to retain a "nerdlike" appearance. He also had to keep talking in a high-pitched voice as the series moved on, which was "not easy", according to White.
In 1999 a pilot for UPN called Grown Ups was based around White as a young man striking out into adulthood. The pilot featured another child actor, Soleil Moon Frye famous for her role as Punky Brewster, as the girl whom he chose as a roommate. The writing and comedy was bland and dissimilar from other sitcoms, and Frye was even removed from the series after the pilot. It did not last a full season.
White's acting roles were not restricted to sitcoms however; he costarred in the ensemble animated film Quest for Camelot which was released in 1998.
He was also the voice of the famed video game character Sonic the Hedgehog in most of his TV shows - Adventures of Sonic the Hedgehog, Sonic the Hedgehog, and Sonic Underground, as well as a Christmas special.
White also made a cameo appearance in the movie Big Fat Liar and was the voice of 'Martin' in Our Friend, Martin.
Having graduated from UCLA Film School in 2001, White currently works as a professional writer.