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Jasmine Guy and Kadeem Hardison on 'A Different World's Iconic Romance

There are many reasons why A Different World‘s bougie southern belle, Whitley Gilbert, and confident math whiz, Dwayne Cleofis Wayne, seem as if they wouldn’t work but Jasmine Guy and Kadeem Hardison make it obvious why they do in an instant: chemistry. 

The dynamic duo reunited over a video call to chat with ET about their adventure with their former castmates on E!’s new series, Reunion Road Trip, and it’s plain to see how the two managed to make complete opposites become such a beloved couple in TV history. 

“It’s boy meets girl, girl’s not interested in boy, boy’s not interested in girl. Then the writers came up with some great idea to put boy and girl together, and then we ended up married and happily ever after,” Hardison says, succinctly describing the turbulent relationship between their characters.

Although Hardison’s Dwayne was more devoted to Lisa Bonet’s Denise Huxtable in the first season, the show teases at his attraction to Whitley — and vice versa — before it becomes more fleshed out as the series changed for season 2 and onward. Dwayne and Whitley’s intense ‘will they, won’t they’ theme carries on until they eventually become a couple in season 4, only to break up and see Whitley almost marry another man. 

FLASHBACK: 'A Different World' Cast Hopes for 'Cosby' Like Success

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“I realized that Whitley becomes another kind of character when she’s with him,” Guy shared, reflecting on the characters’ relationship. “Dwayne brought out her vulnerability, which she was never comfortable with. She always had to think she was in control.”

Much of Whitley’s journey throughout the series is focused on learning to shrug off her mother’s attempts to turn her into the perfect bride for a well-off husband. It regularly interferes with her relationship with Dwayne, who comes from a less affluent family. Whitley goes through several humbling experiences in the show as she struggles with her finances, the reality of being independent and wanting to establish her career as an art buyer. Her love for the finer things in life clashes with Dwayne’s less upscale lifestyle and leads to several blowups in their bumpy romance. But in the end, the two manage to find their happy ending and become one of the golden standards of onscreen Black love stories. 

“I don’t think I looked at our love story as a Black love story. It just seemed like a story that people can go through,” Guy explained. “People that keep missing each other and then somehow find a way back and then split again. I think at the age that our characters were, you always think there may be something else. That there may be something better. And then we both had familial pressures too because we were in different classes. I don’t think it mattered to us as much as it did to our moms.” 

“There [are] so many ways that this relationship was doomed,” she added. “It had more to do with the young love and what young people know about themselves and know about who they want to be with than it does about race. I’m glad we’re in the realm of love stories. But I don’t know that we told a particularly Black love story. I think it had a lot to do with age, classism and parental interference.”

Despite their many ups and downs, Hardison believes that the two would still be married in 2021. The couple ended the series with a baby on the way as they moved to Japan, where Dwayne would work at Kinishewa. Hardison notes that he wouldn’t be surprised if the couple had a separation here and there, but “they’d still be kicking it.”

Guy agreed but with the addition that they would be going through a rough patch as Whitley goes through a bit of a mid-life crisis. “She may say, ‘This is the only man that I’ve ever known. I want to explore the world.’ Whereas Dwayne is more, ‘I’m finally where we’re stable, our kids raised, we’re in a good place.’ And just how we used to do on the show; when somebody is just in another lane and we’re missing each other, we need to intersect,” she explained. 

She added, “I kind of think…because Whitley still is a couple of years older than Dwayne and he’s the only man she’s ever loved…this is what happens to us when our kids leave us. We start looking at ourselves like, ‘OK, now what do I do?’ And so, I think it would make for an interesting exploration, and I have written a pilot for that…about how I think we would look 40 years later.”

It may be almost 30 years since the series finale aired, but we’d watch that! 

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