‘A Different World’: Jasmine Guy Says Producers Mistreated Lisa Bonet

There would be no A Different World without Lisa Bonet. A spinoff of The Cosby Show, the show’s first season centered on the eldest Cosby Show kid heading off to college. But it’s widely known that Bonet was unhappy on set. And according to co-star Jasmine Guy, Bonet was publicly mistreated on set.

Jasmine Guy, Sinbad, and Lisa Bonet talk at reunion special for 'A Different World;' Guy says Bonet was mistreated on set
Jasmine Guy, Sinbad and Lisa Bonet | Jeff Kravitz/FilmMagic, Inc for Nickelodeon Television

Jasmine Guy says she confronted producers about mistreating Lisa Bonet on the show

Guy was a cast member on the show from its first season. But aside from not liking the content on the show in its debut year, she also says that Bonet was not treated well on set. Things were so bad that Guy wanted to quit.

Source: YouTube

“After that first season, it was wack, and I didn’t like how they were treating Lisa Bonet,” Guy told the hosts of The Breakfast Club in a recent interview. “You disrespect her in front of an audience, in front of me, you disrespecting me too.”

“I didn’t interfere on set, but I was like ‘oh no. you not treating her like that,’ Guy added. The actress noted that producers would yell at Bonet in front of the studio audience and demand that she do certain things. “She had to hire security.”

Debbie Allen once shared similar sentiments in an interview

Guy wasn’t the only person who says Bonet was not treated fairly. In an interview with the LA Times in 1989, the producer shared that upon starting in the show’s second season, she quickly learned that Bonet was not happy.

Bonet was so unhappy that she wanted to leave the show. But Allen fought for her to stay. “She became a scapegoat on the set and in the press,” Allen told the publication at the time regarding backlash the show was receiving in its first season.

Source: YouTube

Luckily, Allen shared that Bonet was “very responsive” to her. “I wanted to help her make that turnaround to the public.” But Bonet would exit the show ahead of Season 2 after becoming pregnant with her daughter. The show continued without her and zoned in on the other characters in the show, becoming more of an ensemble.

Bonet’s relationship with creator Bill Cosby was tense behind the scenes. She was considered to be rebellious against Cosby’s morally-stricken persona. Additionally, she hinted she never wanted to participate in the spinoff.

In a 1986 interview with David Letterman, when asked why she took the role, she responded, “They told me to?” She then spoke about the premise of the show, explaining, “Well, it’s called Hillman, and it’s not very original. It’s about kids in college.”

Kadeem Hardison disagreed with Lisa Bonet no longer being on the show because of her pregnancy

One person who thought the show could have benefited from art imitating life was Hardison, whose character Dwyane Wade was initially enamored by Bonet’s character Denise Huxtable. 

“[They] didn’t want a Black girl pregnant in college,” Hardison said in the interview alongside Guy. “I thought it would’ve been a great tool and something to inspire, because it was all inspiring, so why not?”

Bonet would return to The Cosby Show. Her character married a Navy Seal and became stepmother to his young daughter.

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