HEART TO HEART

Af­ter her di­vorce, the TV star learned you can go home again

Closer Weekly - - News - — Gregg Gold­stein

Jasmine Guy talks moth­er­hood, aging and her new pro­ject.

Fans still have fond mem­o­ries of Jasmine Guy as the hi­lar­i­ously prissy Whit­ley Gil­bert on her hit ’80s col­lege sit­com A Dif­fer­ent World. But around the time of her painful 2008 di­vorce, the newly sin­gle mom found her­self liv­ing full-time in a very fa­mil­iar world: At­lanta, the city where she grew up. “My par­ents said,

‘Just come home for a while. We can’t help you out there by your­self,’ ” Jasmine, 54, re­veals to Closer. “Af­ter you get di­vorced, you’re back in hus­tle mode: I thought, How am I go­ing to work in At­lanta, pro­vide for my fam­ily and be me at this stage I don’t rec­og­nize? I didn’t re­al­ize there was this whole res­ur­rec­tion hap­pen­ing with

[show] busi­ness here.” It’s al­lowed

Jasmine to raise her daugh­ter

Imani, 17, in the city she loves.

And now, 30 years af­ter her sig­na­ture show pre­miered, she is also com­ing “full cir­cle” with The Quad, a new

BET se­ries that’s set in an African-Amer­i­can col­lege in the South.

Con­grats on your new show!

It’s my third fic­ti­tious HBCU [his­tor­i­cally black col­lege/univer­sity] af­ter A Dif­fer­ent World and [Spike Lee’s 1988 film] School Daze. The irony is amaz­ing, be­cause I grew up across the street from More­house Col­lege and my father taught there. It’s a beau­ti­ful gift to let kids know these schools are avail­able to them.

Speak­ing of A Dif­fer­ent World, when did you last see your cast­mates?

I have a re­cur­ring role on [the Dis­ney Chan­nel show] K.C. Un­der­cover, and they thought it would be fun to bring me and Kadeem [Hardi­son] back to­gether. It was awe­some. Our cast was very close; we called each other on our stuff and it wasn’t a big deal. We ex­pect hon­esty from peo­ple who love us.

How about Bill Cosby, who cre­ated A Dif­fer­ent World?

We filmed in LA and they filmed [The Cosby Show] in New York, so we were mostly work­ing with [di­rec­tor] Deb­bie Allen.

Lisa Bonet left af­ter the first sea­son, but have you kept in touch with her and Marisa Tomei?

I re­ally loved work­ing with Lisa, and I’m sorry we lost her. [Lisa and Marisa] are very close friends. It’s al­ways great to see them and pick up where we left off.

Just like you have in At­lanta! What was your life like grow­ing up there?

I raised a lot of ba­bies, be­cause we were a foster fam­ily when I was 10 or 11 and my sis­ter was around 7. We would have foster kids un­til they were four to five months old, changed di­a­pers, did feed­ings — I re­ally thought they were mine. Some were left in dump­sters, and my mom would let me name them af­ter songs from Africa. I think that changed my life. I’d tell them, “Your mommy wants you. You’re go­ing to have a great life.” It was dev­as­tat­ing when they wouldn’t get adopted. That was the part I couldn’t take. I was go­ing through the adop­tion process when I met my ex-hus­band, but the tim­ing worked out [to have our daugh­ter, Imani].

What did you learn with foster ba­bies that in­formed how you raised her?

I wanted her to know her own spirit. When it’s just on you [af­ter a di­vorce], it is scary, but I do have a vil­lage — peo­ple who love us, who’ll do things I couldn’t do by my­self. I think the hard­est thing for women rais­ing chil­dren by them­selves is there is no bal­ance.

How do you get around that?

I think about what my daddy or her god­fa­ther or my best friend’s hus­band would do. I’ll end up call­ing them to say, “I don’t know if Imani is go­ing to open up to you, but this is what’s go­ing on, so can you of­fer any ad­vice?”

Any lessons you’ve taken from it?

Don’t feel in­ad­e­quate be­cause you’re sin­gle. It’s eas­ier said than done, but find that love in other kinds of re­la­tion­ships.

“I love the ad­ven­ture

that I get from be­ing with peo­ple.”

— Jasmine

How did you change af­ter moth­er­hood?

I felt re­ally afraid of tak­ing risks I used to take with­out a sec­ond thought. But it has changed things in a beau­ti­ful way. Imani re­ally is my fa­vorite per­son in the world.

You seem to be a ma­ter­nal per­son.

I see peo­ple in their baby state! Imani tells me, “Mommy, I’m not a baby.” But I say, “I still see your spirit. You’re go­ing to for­get it, so I have to re­mind you who you came here to be.”

You’re now 54. What are the ben­e­fits to reach­ing your age?

I feel free! I love be­ing with peo­ple. I travel a lot, meet a lot of like-minded folks and hear sto­ries of how they hold their fam­i­lies to­gether. It’s kind of like the show Un­der­cover Boss [laughs]. We have so much more in com­mon than what we don’t have in com­mon, so to fo­cus on our dif­fer­ences is re­ally de­bil­i­tat­ing.

— Re­port­ing by Ilyssa Panitz

“I like her and

I love her”: Jasmine with her daugh­ter,

Imani With Kadeem Hardi­son and Dawnn Lewis on the 1987–’93 se­ries

A Dif­fer­ent World.

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