‘Family Matters’: Jaimee Foxworth Didn’t Originally Portray Judy in the Pilot Episode

Family Matters ran for nine seasons in the ’90s and featured an all-African American cast. Fans loved the Winslow family for how relatable they were.

Throughout the TV show, viewers got to meet and watch the Winslow family members as they navigated through life. Interestingly, the actor who played Judy wasn’t in the show’s pilot despite being the producers’ first choice. Find out who played Judy in the show’s pilot.

‘Family Matters’ was a spinoff of another hit show

Richie (Bryton McClure), Carl (Reginald VelJohnson) and Judy (Jaimee Foxworth)
Richie (Bryton McClure), Carl (Reginald VelJohnson) and Judy (Jaimee Foxworth) | Walt Disney Television via Getty Images Photo Archives/Walt Disney Television via Getty Images

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Family Matters was a sitcom that ran in the ’90s. The show was a spinoff of Perfect Strangers. Jo Marie Peyton, who played the Winslow family’s mother, worked as an elevator operator at a newspaper factory where Perfect Strangers’ characters Balki Bartokomous and Larry Appleton worked.

Producers and ABC network executives loved Harriette so much (because of her quick-witted humor) that they decided to create a show that would make Harriette the primary focus. The show would focus on Harriette’s family, including her husband Carl and her three children Laura, Eddie and Judy, and thus Family Matters was born.

In the show’s pilot, viewers were also introduced to Carl’s mother, Estelle, who also went by Mother Winslow. Before the show started, another character was added. Rachel, Harriette’s sister, and her infant son moved in with the Winslows following her husband’s death. The show also expanded to include outside characters like the Winslows’ nerdy neighbor Steve Urkel.

Urkel was brought in as a side character who was supposed to appear in one episode of the show. However, audiences loved the character, and actor Jaleel White got promoted to the main cast. Soon enough, the other cast members of the show were informed that the show would base its storylines on Urkel and his adventures. The cast was reportedly not happy with the news, but they learned to embrace Urkel as the series progressed.

One cast member went prominently missing after the fourth season

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In the show’s first four seasons, the Winslow family consisted of three children. However, after the fifth season, the Winslows were down one child. For some time, fans speculated about what had happened to Judy Winslow.

In a season 4 episode titled ‘Mama’s Wedding,’ Mother Winslow finds love and gets married. Judy and her elder sister Laura serve as their grandmother’s bride’s maids. Towards the end of the episode, Judy gets sent upstairs to her room as punishment.

The youngest Winslow goes upstairs, never to return. Family Matters continued as if the character never existed in the first place. As the show progressed, the Winslows acted as if they had two children from the beginning. Various rumors suggested that the actor who played Judy, Jamiee Foxworth, had gotten fired because she demanded more money,

However, Foxworth’s mother later revealed that the producers refused to give Foxworth more screen time. Sources reported that after Urkel’s introduction, Foxworth’s character Judy became more irrelevant, and the producers ended up writing her out of the show.

Foxworth, however, said that her onscreen mother Payton fought to keep her on the show but failed since the producers couldn’t hear any of it. Foxworth was also not invited to the show’s 2017 cast reunion. She admitted that she only found out about the reunion from her former Family Matters co-star Shawn Harrison who played Waldo.

Foxworth wasn’t the first Judy

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Whenever people think of Judy Winslow, Foxworth comes to mind. However, she wasn’t the first actor to play Judy. In the show’s pilot ‘The Mama Who Came To Dinner,’ actor Valerie Jones played the youngest Winslow. Jones was used for the pilot because Foxworth, the producers’ first choice for Judy, had another commitment.

According to Mental Floss, Jones has also appeared in The Fresh Prince Of Bel-Air in 1990 and 1992. In 1992 she appeared in Trident Gum and Pepsi Soda commercials. Many people believe that Jones didn’t stay past the pilot because of her acting, while others believe the writers wrote her off the show as they did with Foxworth.