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Actress Jasmine Guy is a national treasure and should be treated as such. Luckily she is these days as she took home her very first Emmy, for Outstanding Actress In A Short Form Comedy Or Drama Series for Chronicles Of Jessica Wu.

Jasmine Guy

Source: Jakeem Smith Of Jay Productions Agency

The icon who starred in the culture-shifting comedy A Different World is now reflecting on her win and her storied 40-year+ career. Below Guy tells BOSSIP about what this Emmy win means to her, dishes on being part of the Harlem on Prime cast, and opens up bringing Whitley Gilbert (and her signature accent) to life.

2024 Creative Arts Emmys - Arrivals

Source: Frazer Harrison / Getty

BOSSIP: Congratulations on winning your first Emmy, how are you feeling in the wake of all this?

Jasmine Guy: I am so happy and grateful and I really didn’t think I was going to feel that way. I didn’t know that I cared that much, but it really means a lot to me in so many ways, and I feel like I won an Emmy for A Different World, for Atlanta, for my high school. All the people that raised me and mentored me for my time at [Alvin] Ailey.

I guess being at this age and getting it is so different than when I thought we were going to get nominated when we were doing the show and I was in my twenties, you know?

2024 Creative Arts Emmys - Arrivals

Source: Frazer Harrison / Getty

Did you have an inkling that you were going to win during the ceremony?

Well, I was sitting with my sister and, first, she told me to close my legs because I had on pants, and I was just kind of in a relaxed position. She said “You’re on the aisle,” which means that’s where the camera goes up and down and gets audience reactions. So I was right there. So I did that.

And then, 45 minutes into the show, she said, “What are you going to say? I think you’re going to win!” And I hadn’t organized it like that. And I said, “Okay, talking points.” She gave me talking points, I organized it in my brain and then I said, “Don’t you let that music play! [Don’t cut me off]!” I was like, “This has to be succinct.”

Source: Ella Hovsepian / Getty

You know how you write an outline? I was writing it in my head, like, “Thank them, and them specifically for these things…” And so when I did receive the award, I was able to calm down and know what I was going to say.

And then we had a party afterward for The Chronicles of Jessica Wu. The production gave us a party, and then the Emmys had a party, too. The governor’s party. I just went to our party. I didn’t go to both. I was good. All my friends were at the production party. Darryl Bell came, Jim Pickens was there, I had my god kids there, my sister. We had a ball!


Source: Ella Hovsepian / Getty

Source: Ella Hovsepian / Getty

It was so good to be able to share that with them, because I had the actual award, too, so of course I brought it to the party and everybody got to feel it and hold it and see how heavy it was.

One thing I always wonder when people win their awards, like their Emmys, is where do you put that in your house? Do you have a trophy case? Is it up on your mantle?

Well, right now, my sister has it. She has to mail it to me because I couldn’t put it in my suitcase. It was heavy. I’m going to put it on my piano. It will be the only thing on the piano and it’ll be in the middle of the window, which is a little obnoxious. I probably won’t open my blinds, but it’s the only space in my apartment.


Source: Ella Hovsepian / Getty

I have used my awards like decor in my house. I don’t have a specific area, but some of the awards, like my Soul Train award, is so pretty. It’s this African mask and it has a green stone base, so it looks like a statue. You don’t really know it’s an award until you get up on it. And I have four [NAACP] Image Awards at the top of my bookshelf. The other two I won, I had given to my parents. I have five here, and my dad has one. When my mom passed, I got my award back.

But I don’t know, it’s not something I’ve thought about lately in the last couple of days, because I don’t want to be driven by that. I don’t like the feeling of being left out. So I just don’t think about it like that. And so it was a surprise in that it happened to me at this part of my life and, really, to my dad, too. We both kept laughing!


I don’t know why we were laughing. My daughter thought my dad didn’t get it, but we were laughing at the irony! I think we were laughing at the irony of it and what a way for me to be able to say thank you to everybody that invested in me along the way.

I left home at seventeen, so I was mentored by the people I was working with; the Ailey schools, the Broadway shows I did. So I appreciate all of that.


Absolutely, and we appreciate you and your storied career that we have seen over the years. For you, when you look back at your roles, what, to you, has been your favorite to play?

I don’t know one, because there are a lot of things that I’ve done that people haven’t seen.

Yes. Tell us about them!

A lot of my favorite work… Everybody doesn’t see the plays I did, and the work I did here in Atlanta with True Colors… They were momentous for me, those plays. And I got to do roles that I never get offered when I’m in L.A. I was needed here. They don’t really need me in L.A. It’s like a bunch of oranges that fell on the ground and nobody eats them because there’s so many.

I had value and I had something to offer because I had been away and came back. I went to high school with Crystal Fox, so the two of us being able to work the way we have and be able to give back to the community we lived in… I left! But she’s always been here, so sometimes we talk about that. She was a grade behind me at North Side [high school] and very gifted then as well.

Jasmine Guy

Source: Jakeem Smith Of Jay Productions Agency 

It’s a journey with so much more to think about now than I did when I was young and my career was ahead of me. So it was more about what I wanted to do with my life, and now I’m looking back at what I have done. So in that perspective, it’s a very different feeling. It’s now one of giving, of returning, as opposed to wanting when I was younger.

Yes. And the Atlanta, I guess, acting scene has grown and changed so much over the years. We have Tyler Perry Studios here now. So first of all, I’m from Marietta. I’m from right outside the city, so it’s nice to talk to someone who is from here, who gets it.

Now, I would be remiss if we did not talk about A Different World, obviously, and your iconic character Whitley Gilbert, who still translates to this day; we still see the Whitley costumes; the clips are live on social media. Looking back at that character, when you first read for that role, did you foresee any of this coming to where it is today?

No! And that was my third audition! I had auditioned for The Cosby Show and I had already auditioned for A Different World. Obviously, I didn’t get the part [on The Cosby Show]. So when I went in the third time, I was like, obviously what I’m doing isn’t working, and that’s why I made such a broad choice because I figured I didn’t have anything to lose; I had already been there three times.

I was reading my script with my mom and I said… Because we were awake on a summer vacation, I said, “Is this funny?”

She said, “Well, it’s kind of funny.”

I said, “Mommy, I have to be funny!” I said, what happened to Miss Pinker?” And that was my third-grade teacher, and she fell out. I used to imitate her, my teacher, all the time because I had never heard that kind of accent before. So I just did the whole thing in that accent.

And then, when I got to the audition, she had two names. It was either Whitley or Sydney. It said, “A black, southern belle. And I said, “What’s a black southern belle?”

I really didn’t know what that was because when there were southern bells, we were picking cotton, so I didn’t understand. I joked, “What do you think white people in Hollywood think is a black, southern belle?” And that’s how I came up with that. In the scene I auditioned for she was hitting on the professor for a better grade, and then, by the time I got the role, she had become this virginal character. So there were still things, kinks, that were being worked out with those characters. But me and Kadeem both [Hardison] were the comic relief when they brought us on.

Absolutely and you guys made magic on A Different World. It was awesome to see. And, like I said, I went to Hampton University, so seeing A Different World

Oh, really?

Yes. It was the best decision I ever made in my life, and A Different World definitely shaped my decision. My sister went to Spelman, we picked our HBCUs because of that.

I love that. I love to hear that and I love to hear that it was a positive experience.

Comedy Central, TVLand, Nick and Nickelodeon Summer 2006 TCA Press Tour - Inside

Source: Jeff Kravitz / Getty

Absolutely. It was beautiful. We truly enjoyed it, for sure. Another thing that I’m truly enjoying is seeing you on Harlem on Prime. You’re playing Grace Byers’ mom, talk to me about filming Harlem and what’s to come.

I love doing that show. I have so much fun. When COVID hit, I had only done two episodes. I think I was supposed to do four, and that’s the first thing I said: “What about Harlem? I didn’t get a chance to put my foot in it yet! They’re not going to pick me back up because I was a recurring.” So when the show came back after the virus, I was so happy. And then we just got picked up for a third season. I’m happy about that, too.

Prime Video's

Source: Monica Schipper / Getty

I have such a good time with Grace [Byers]. The irony there is that I’m playing a Jamaican, and when we get offset, I start talking the way I talk. She’s really from the island; and she has the accent, so it’s a flip.

I had no idea because I’ve only heard her act, so it’s been American accent. And I said, “Don’t you let me go out there and not sound right, because I don’t have anybody to give me my notes”. And that makes me insecure, especially if she’s from there, because I’ve learned that accent and I’ve played that a Jamaican before, but it’s not the same as growing up there. And the fact that she was switching back and forth so easily from American to her native accent…I don’t want those Jamaican mothers telling me I don’t sound like them.

They will let you know. They’ll come after you.

They’re going to let you know!

They do not play!




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