TR Interview: Jaleel White Sheds Some Light on Total Blackout

By Luke Y. Thompson in TV
Tuesday, January 15, 2013 at 6:00 am

LYT: I have to ask because we are a nerd site; you were classically the voice of Sonic the Hedgehog. Do you still feel a certain affection or affiliation with that character every time you still see him going?

JW: You know what's so funny, and your question is so timely: a fan film was released, as a matter of fact, this guy contacted my manager, and had me do the voice of Sonic again, which I hadn't done in years, but his vision for his fan film seemed so legitimate that it was cool, and he released it yesterday, so I want to blow it up. It's just fun.

LYT: Have you ever read any Sonic fan fiction, and has any of it been particularly disturbing?

JW: I don't go too deep into Planet Mobius, you know what I'm saying? I stick to being Sonic and I let everything exist around me. (laughs)

LYT: In Ghostbusters, Sigourney Weaver insults Bill Murray by comparing him to a game show host, but nowadays it's respectable and cool. You've got Drew Carey doing it, you've got Wayne Brady doing it, you're doing it - when did being a game show host become cool again?

JW: I think the criteria for hit television has changed. What people will watch is what matters. Not necessarily the genre, you know what I mean? Nobody had any respect for reality television 5 years ago, and now you go to TCAs and half the people there talking to the critics are reality stars. So the fact of the matter is, anything that attracts eyeballs is going to pick up some street cred. That's why with Mega Shark Versus Crocosaurus, I don't even run from that! People are like "You were really in that?" And I'm like "Yeah! We got good numbers!" It is what it is. Some of those scenes are absolutely ridiculous - I know! But we got great numbers, and people love laughing at it.

LYT: Is there anything you personally nerd out about today?

JW: I nerd out about my daughter, man, that's it. I'm a dad-geek - I like getting everything perfect when it comes to her. I literally planned her birthday party myself, from top to bottom. It was like "OK, the kids are going to be in here for 45 minutes, and then after that they're going to have a 15 minute break where they're going to have these Doritos!" I kind of geek out about my daughter's life experience - nothing's ever perfect enough.

Evans Vestal Ward Photo

LYT: Have you saved any of your old [Urkel] toys for her to play with?

JW: You know what? The best part of being a dad for me right now is all this new stuff that I'm doing; it continues to drive home the point that life is generational. So my daughter has no idea that I played this nerd character on television; my daughter actually thinks I'm a dancer. I B.S. you not! She's seen me in the CeeLo Green video, she's seen me on Dancing with the Stars, she came to the set, and then she's also come to the Total Blackout set also. Of all the jobs I've had, those are the ones that she's come to, and my daughter says "Daddy dances, and he wears a microphone on his shirt at work." And that's all she knows, and I think that is the coolest thing in the world, because it puts any past opinions into perspective. It really is about what she thinks.

LYT: But did you save any of your old merchandise?

JW: I did. It's in a trunk. I don't get any particular thrill with my daughter playing with me - I prefer she just stick to her Barbies and Legos.

LYT: So what's next for you? Is Total Blackout the main thing, are there other acting gigs coming up?

JW: I've always got acting gigs coming up, but I let those drop when they drop. The problem with acting gigs, these days especially, is when you do them you don't know when they're going to come out, so it's better to almost not speak about them until they happen, it's like, okay, I can speak. I just did an episode of something that's really, really funny, but [my manager] went and popped my bubble and told me it's not going to come out until June! It's like, "Aww, crap! I can't talk about that right now!" I'm always going to act, I'm going to stay acting, but acting is like my surprise now, I promote this kind of stuff, and when things pop up, they pop up. I'm like, "Oh yeah! I guess I did do that!"

Total Blackout's new season begins tonight at 10:30 p.m. on Syfy.

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