Jaleel White became a household name in the '90s as the lovable geek Steve Urkel on Family Matters.
Now, the 35-year-old has been reintroduced to audiences as a contestant on this season of Dancing With the Stars. But in the past few weeks, his personal life has been getting more attention than his dance moves.
White's ex-girlfriend, Bridget Hardy, who is the mother of his two-year-old daughter, accused him of being verbally and physically abusive, Radar Online reported. He has also been dogged by claims that he got into an explosive argument with his dancing partner Kym Johnson and the show's producers during rehearsals.
White talked to Parade.com about dealing with the negative side of reality TV fame and why he's pushing forward with the competition.
On dealing with recent tabloid rumors.
"That part is rough. I've been in this business for 30 years and I think my record speaks for itself. The fact of the matter is the cops ain't looking for me at all [laughing]! I have a real life to get back to when this show is done and you don't want it in tatters. I try to focus on what's real and I'm keeping everybody that's close to me year-round even closer to me right now."
On his two-year-old daughter, Samaya.
"I try to spend any free moment I have with my daughter. That's rough on me. I'm used to spending more time with her, so sometimes I have her come down to the rehearsal hall."
See photos of Jaleel White Through the Years
On the grueling rehearsal process.
"It's exhausting! The thing I crave most is sleep. Kym and I are practicing and rehearsing and falling over at the end of the day and we can hear the cameraman snickering at us. I've been a hard worker my entire life. I had one sick day in nine years of doing Family Matters. Working hard and being diligent about something that I want is just a part of who I am. But every single person in this competition has a type-A personality and works around the clock. It's motivating, it's a little scary, and it's getting real."
On his biggest competition.
"I don't really look at it that way. This is a competition within myself. I'm trying to stay focused, enjoy the process, and get so good at the dance that it just becomes a part of my muscle memory. Now, I will say my man Will Levy is a one-man bachelorette party! He turns the room out every week. It's hilarious. He's a cool guy to be around. I love running into him down at the rehearsal hall and I'd be honored to be standing next to the guy at the end if I can make it that far."
Jaleel White: 'I'm More Than Just a Guy Who Was in Suspenders'
On his favorite judge.
"Everybody fears Len [Goodman]. I don't fear Len so much. Carrie Ann [Inaba] speaks first, so I know if she says something else that the rest won't be that bad!"
On what's in store for this week's rock-themed dance.
"My inner Mick Jagger is what's in store! I actually really love my song. I like this routine a lot, it's very intricate though. Kym has more faith in me than I have in myself. I'm just rolling with that and glad she's happy with the progress."
Read this week's exclusive blog from DWTS contestant Katherine Jenkins!
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