Why The First Actress Who Played “Claire” On ‘My Wife & Kids’ Was Replaced

My Wife and Kids entertained viewers for five seasons. Fans watched Michael and Jay Kyle trick their kids into behaving properly or teach them lessons through well-thought-out traps. Aside from the parents, viewers loved the Kyle kids

My Wife and Kids cast
‘My Wife and Kids’ cast | Jeffrey Mayer/WireImage

Claire (Jennifer Freeman) was beloved for her ditziness but didn’t start out that way. The Wayans family sitcom started out with Claire having not only a different personality than viewers grew to love, but she was also played by a totally different actress.

‘My Wife and Kids’ aired for five seasons 

ABC scores a victory with My Wife and Kids.’ The show starred Damon Wayans as Michael Kyle, the patriarch of an upper-middle-class African-American family who rules his household with pranks instead of a belt. He outsmarts his three children time and time again with wit and humorous wisdom. 

Source: YouTube

The show was co-created and co-produced by Wayans, and veteran television writer and producer, Don Reo.

For five seasons, the show had good to favorable ratings among households. It won a variety of awards, including NAACP Image Awards, People’s Choice Awards and BET Comedy Awards.

Source: YouTube

Tisha Campbell-Martin played Michael’s wife and partner-in-crime, Jay. The Kyle’s three children were played by unknown child actors at the time. George O. Gore played the eldest Junior, Jennifer Freeman starred as Claire and Parker McKenna Posey played their youngest daughter, Kady.

But Freeman was not initially cast as Claire. Jazz Raycole had the role in its inaugural season.

Why was Jazz Raycole replaced as Claire Kyle in ‘My Wife and Kids?’

For the first season, Raycole played the middle child, Claire Kyle. She was spunky, talented and a central part of the show. But when the second season aired, Raycole was noticeably absent and a different actress, Jennifer Freeman, had taken over her role.

The role of Claire transformed totally, both in personality and even in appearance. For starters, Freeman and Raycole were two different complexions. Raycole was of a darker skin tone with natural hair while Freeman was of a lighter skin tone with longer and curlier hair. Many viewers assumed that because the Kyle family was made up of actors of a lighter skin tone, that Raycole didn’t fit in aesthetically.

Jazz Raycole
Jazz Raycole 2007 | Charley Gallay/Getty Images

Additionally, the personalities of the characters were vastly different. When Raycole starred as Claire, she was filled with sass and talent. Freeman’s version of Claire was ditzy to say the least. The change was hard for fans of the show to adjust to. 

In addition to the reasons why casting executives wanted a different actress in the role, there were rumors that Raycole’s mother had her removed from the show after discovering an upcoming storyline of Claire having a pregnant friend. 

Jennifer Freeman
Jennifer Freeman | Michael Bezjian/WireImage

Raycole revealed in an interview with Christian Post that none of the rumors were true. 

“I was 12 years old when I got that job. The producers wanted a different thing, they wanted someone a little bit older. I wasn’t ready for that,” Raycole revealed. “I ended up going to New York to dance, which was my first passion. I really thank God for that because I got to grow and travel.”

Jazz Raycole
Jazz Raycole 2018 | Frederick M. Brown/Getty Images

Raycole continued acting and dancing and most recently had roles on the BET series, The Soul Man and The Quad.

My Wife and Kids airs reruns on Fuse.