Articles about castmembers:
WHEN `FAMILY MATTERS' AND
SO DO FRIENDS 1995, St. Louis Post-Dispatch
WATCH out, Urkel. Waldo
Faldo may be stealing your thunder.
Producers of ABC's hit sitcom "Family Matters'
introduced actor Shawn Harrison's endearingly dim Waldo
in the series' second season, and he's been in demand
"I really have been doing more
and more on the show," says Harrison, who plays best
friend to Eddie Winslow (Darius McCrary) and irritant to
Steve Urkel (Jaleel White). Of late, Waldo, with his 1.0
grade- point-average, has found his calling in cooking.
Now he attends culinary school.
Harrison, 21, sips lemonade in a coffee shop and points
out that Waldo first appeared in a guest role as sidekick
to the school bully ("Menace II Society's"
Larenz Tate) who terrorized Urkel. When bully and buddy
were asked to return on a regular basis, Tate declined,
but Harrison went for the chance to co-star on the
popular series, which begins its seventh season this fall.
"Since Larenz wasn't coming back, they changed Waldo
to Eddie's best friend," says Harrison, who joined
the regular cast for the third season. "I'm kind of
a foil on the show. Waldo thinks only in the moment. He
has no memory of what happened 10 minutes before. But he'
s not stupid; he's pretty complex. He just doesn't grasp
concepts in a conventional way."
The most frequently asked question of the actor may be,
"Are you as stupid as Waldo?" and obviously the
answer is no. Harrison finished two years at Los Angeles
Harbor and Cerritos colleges and will attend UCLA in the
fall. On hiatus since late March, he's in the throes of a
summer math class.
"I've just been so busy," Harrison says. He
works on "Family" five days a week and has
classes each night.
Even before he attended elementary school, Harrison, at
age 4, told his mother, a computer engineer, that he
wanted to be an actor. After he enrolled in a children's
workshop, he landed a role as Steve Martin's youngest
sibling in the 1979 movie "The Jerk."
When auditions cut seriously into his playtime in his
Compton neighborhood, Harrison's interest in acting waned
but was revived in the fifth grade. Before sixth grade,
he had been hired in seven national commercials,
including ones for Burger King and Fruity Pebbles cereal.
Harrison worked frequently in commercials and in TV guest
spots, enough that his mother left her job to not only
manage her son but other aspiring actors as well.
The actor's mother died suddenly 3 1/2 years ago, right
after his first full season on "Family Matters."
"We were both so happy about my getting the part. .
. . Her heart just stopped." Harrison now lives
alone in the home they shared from the time he was 6
"I like living there," he says. "I've
lived there for so long. You just never know how long
you're going to be on a series. I'm comfortable there. I
have family, aunts and cousins there."
He's close to his "Family Matters" friends as
well too. "Well, there are three people you tune
into the show to laugh at: Urkel, the dad (Reginald
VelJohnson) and Waldo. And we all work well together."
Kellie Williams, who plays Laura, is his closest friend.
Harrison says he may study to be a family counselor.
"An educated, intelligent actor is going to be more
successful than one without schooling," he explains.
"Maybe because I'm in TV right now," he says,
"but I'm really interested in producing. I see
myself acting for no more than five years. I want to
produce a show about blacks where we show that the
diversity, the black experience, is very universal, kind
of like what they do on `Family Matters.' It's about
characters and family, not color."