Kellie Shanygne Williams:
Laura Winslow on Family Matters
1992 Sydney Cooper, Kidsbooks
When Family Matters super-nerd Urkel pipes up with, " No sweat, my pet," chances are hes talking to pretty Laura Winslow, played to perky perfection by Kellie Shanygne Williams. Chatty Kellie, who grew up in Washington, D.C., loves playing Laura. In fact, she admits that theres not much difference between the two. "Were very similar, shes just like me. We say the same things which is exactly what we feel."
Speaking her mind may be what she does now, but its precisely because she didnt speak her mind or much of anything at all!- that Kellie got into showbiz in the first place. As a small child, Kellie was so shy that her parents took her to acting classes just to get her out of her shell. Kellie was only four years old at the time. It didnt take very long for the bashful babe to realize she loved her classes nor did it take long for her coaches to realize just how talented she was.
By the time shed turned seven, Kellie signed with an agent and began to land roles in professional plays as well as TV commercials. She was in the TV special, Celebration: In Honor of Dr. Martin Luther King plus the movies, Men Dont Leave and Suspect. During all this time, she continued to live at home and attend public school.
All that changed when Kellies agent told her about a possible part in a TV series. The show was called Family Matters and they were looking for a young actress to fill the role of Laura. Auditions were taking place in New York and Los Angeles. Since Kellie was in Washington, her agent submitted a video of the young actress quickly put together by her dad, just for the occasion. That did the trick. The casting directors were so impressed with the talented teen, they summoned her for in-person tryouts.
Winning the role meant big changes. Kellie and her mom had to relocate to Los Angeles, where Family Matters tapes. It also meant leaving school and all her friends, which is the one thing Kellie regrets. "I have a tutor and go to school at the studio," the 10th grader reports. "Its boring sometimes. Its hard to stay in a room by yourself all day. I miss my friends."
Of course, Kellie isnt exactly alone at the studio school. Her on-camera pest, but off-camera friend, Jaleel White sits right next to her. The two also eat lunch together at the studios commissary.
Behind the scenes at Family Matters, Jaleel isnt the clown of the bunch. "Its Reginald VelJohnson who keeps everyone loose," Kellie confesses, "Hes the practical joker of the cast."
During the months that Family Matters keeps Kellie in California, she and her mom live in an apartment in the Westwood section of LA. The teenagers room is plastered with posters of her favorites Janet Jackson and Prince, and a bunch of stuffed animals.
Like many 15-year old girls, Kellies all-time favorite activity is shopping. "I buy clothes that are funky with lots of colors." She loves the shopping in Los Angeles, but misses the malls of Maryland where she and her friends back east used to spend Saturday afternoons. Happily, Kellie gets to go home whenever the shows on hiatus (thats showbiz talk for vacation!)
Living a bi-coastal lifestyle suits Kellie just fine, which is definitely a good thing. For as Family Matters soars in the ratings, it looks like shell be at it for quite a while.
Kellie Shanygne Williams. Her middle name is pronounced
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