Jasmine Guy, who is best known for being the lead character in “A Different World,” tried to quit her TV role like a traditional job due to what she said was unfair treatment.
In an interview on “The Breakfast Club” earlier this week, Kadeem Hardison and Guy recall their behind-the-scenes struggle over pay, saying they had to “fight for [better pay].”‘
“A Different World,” which was set in the fictional Black college Hillman University, recently turned 35 years old.
“A Different World,” which ran from 1987 to 1993, was a spinoff of the hugely successful “Cosby Show” on NBC. The show helped helped bolster the network’s primetime lineup behind the popular sitcom “Cheers.” “A Different World” fluctuated between No. 1 and No. 2 in its time slot. Meaning not only was the show a fan favorite, but it was also pulling in advertising dollars.
How Jasmine Guy Found Out she Was Getting Paid Less than Her contemporaries
When Hardison and “Cheers” actor Woody Harrelson starred in the 1992 classic film “White Men Can’t Jump” featuring Wesley Snipes, Harrelson and Hardison, they discussed salaries. Hardison was bewildered because actors on “Cheers,” which featured all white actors, were paid more despite having a more expensive setting and a more significant ensemble than “A Different World.”
Hardison passed the info on to Guy.
“I know, that’s when it hurts. It is when we go, when we talk to other people,” Guy said.
“We went out into the field and found out that ‘Cheers’ … I was like ‘how?'” Hardison said. “He had an assistant. He had all kind of s*** going on. I was like, ‘Where are you getting treated?'”
After a terrible experience working on season 1, Guy (who played Whitley Gilbert-Wayne) was reportedly making $6,000 a week and was ready to leave the show. She says gave the heads of the show a two weeks’ notice.
When Guy signed her initial contract, she happily agreed to the $6,000 weekly for seven episodes, because she was used to small gigs on and off Broadway paying as low as $75. Guy, who is now worth an estimated $4 million, also admitted she did not anticipate the show’s success.
“I already had called my parents. I was like ‘Well I’ve made $30,000 … and I’m paying off my AmEx, and I’m going back to my apartment because I thought that s*** was booty,” Guy said.
A two-week notice is a usual courtesy one would offer when quitting a job. However, TV stars are typically beholden to a contract, making quitting much more complicated.
“When I first got to ‘A Different World,’” I had a contract, and I got $6,000 a week, and I had a limited contract for seven episodes, me and Kadeem [Hardison]. So, when we came on to the show, by episode 6, he was like, ‘What do you think?’ I was like, ‘I don’t know. I didn’t give up my apartment,” Guy said.
What Happened After the Two Weeks’ Notice?
Suffice it to say, her resignation notice did nothing. “Breakfast Club” co-host Angela Yee responded to Guy by claiming actors can’t quit that easily — either Guy had to get fired, or someone had to convince higher-ups that Guy had to be released.
According to attorney matching site Legal Match, if an actor breaches an employment contract, they could “lose the value of the contract entirely … they would be liable for other expenses incurred by their employer as result of the breach.”
A lesson learned in contracts.
Guy went on to appear in every episode of the show, writing three of those episodes and directing one.