Jaleel White is ready to dance his way to putting Steve Urkel in his proper place.
The “Family Matters” icon admits he has long wanted to expand upon his image as the nerd with the honking laugh, and “Dancing With the Stars” seems like a surefire path to that. White will be among the celebrity contestants in the 14th season of the ABC competition starting Monday, March 19, and his mother — a huge fan of the show — is one of the biggest advocates of his doing it.
“I don’t know what to expect, I really don’t,” White tells Zap2it. “I have zero idea. When I step onto a stage as an actor, I know who the other stars are and I have an idea of how the studio wants to promote it. This is brand-spanking-new for me. I’ve been in salsa rooms before, and I take a seat when that one couple takes the floor and blows everyone away.
“I’m an athlete, and I’ve played sports all my life,” adds White, who will be teamed on “Dancing” with Kym Johnson. “I’ve been fortunate enough to pick up things kind of quickly … but I am a black male version of Kirstie Alley going into this. All I can say is that I’m humbled by the request, and doubly humbled by the vigor with which they pursued me. It definitely made my manager feel a lot more comfortable.”
If only because he’s “never really watched” an episode of “Dancing With the Stars,” White does have to learn the ropes quickly. “I frequently pick up the phone when my mother wants to talk to me about the show, though. It has a way of entering every household, whether you watch it or not. And that’s interesting to me, because that’s the way ‘Family Matters’ was.”
With dances instead of dialogue to learn now, White reasons, “I don’t know how to be more prepared for this, other than to be present and be on time. You have to hope the majority of people out there, who created the buzz to get you on the show, are eager to support you. And to make you feel like you’ve made one of the best decisions of your life. That’s really the way I’m walking into it.”
“Dancing with the Stars” premieres Monday, March 19 at 8 p.m. ET/PT on ABC.