"A Different World" Co-Stars Open Up About "Secret" Real-Life Relationship
Kadeem Hardison and Cree Summer were quietly a thing, fans were surprised to learn.
The late 1980s and early '90s sitcom A Different World had a large, co-ed ensemble cast of mostly young actors, so it's no surprise that there were some real-life crushes and romances on the set. While the fictional relationship most beloved by fans was between Jasmine Guy's Whitley Gilbert and Kadeem Hardison's Dwayne Wayne, who eventually married in Season 5, there was another couple behind the scenes who found love first through the friendship they forged on the show. Several Different World cast members took part in an oral history of the sitcom for Vanity Fair last year, and they opened up about the turns their personal lives took in the making of the iconic series. Read on to find out what two exes had to say about their on-set romance.
Hardison confessed he had "a little crush" on Guy.
Dwayne and Whitley eventually became the show's central couple, and fans rooted for them to get together. "I can admit easily that I had a crush on Jasmine the minute I saw her," Hardison said during a 2018 appearance on The Real. When asked whether she knew, Guy, who was also on the show, said that it surfaced when they were working on Spike Lee's 1988 film, School Daze, before they were cast on A Different World. She said the actors would "party" on the set, and that when she and Hardison ended up dancing together to a slow song, he secretly asked co-star Branford Marsalis to play it again.
"But I'm older than Kadeem, and I was about 24, and he was about 20, and I wasn't really doing that at 24. I was looking more for 28," Guy explained. "Way out of my league, right there," Hardison added.
Neither of them liked the wedding episode.
In the fifth season of A Different World, Whitley and Dwayne end up married after Dwayne crashes her wedding to Joe Morton's character, Byron Douglas III.
"I was not a fan of that whole idea," Hardison told Vanity Fair. "I just thought we had done so much stuff that was grounded in reality, and this was a complete leap. [And] it felt like such a snake-in-the-grass thing to do to some other guy who you were friendly with. I 100 percent didn't buy it. Up until the last day before we shot it, I was asking the writers to please fix it."
Guy added, "After we did the reading, I said, 'Are y'all going to do that? That is whack. That is so corny.'"
Meanwhile, Hardison got together with another co-star.
Whitley and Dwayne may have been the "it" pair onscreen, but it was Hardison and Cree Summer, who played Freddie Brooks, who ended up in a real relationship. In the Vanity Fair oral history, they explained how they got together after a few years of being friends and co-stars.
"We were friends at first. We liked to ride motorcycles, [and] one day she pulled over and was like, 'I love you. I think I'm in love with you,'" Hardison recalled. "And I was like, 'What? No. What do you mean?' And then I thought about it and I was like, 'Well, I'm not messing with nobody [and] she's my bestie, why not?' And then it just went on and on."
For her part, Summer described Hardison as "a great boyfriend," adding, "Honestly, when I look back, if a girl's got to have a first love, he was the blueprint. So kind, so generous, so thoughtful and funny as hell."
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Some fans had no idea they were ever together.
Summer and Hardison broke up before the show was over, so the exes continued working together for a time. Speaking to Vanity Fair, Hardison said that was "tough" for him.
"You're not together anymore [but] you still have to go to work and be on set. But it was a joy to get to know her and work with her—to see her grow and help her with weird cartoon auditions," he explained. (Summer is a prolific voice actor these days.) "We would do all of that stuff."
The two didn't go to much trouble to hide their relationship—it's not difficult to find photos of the two of them out and about together at the time. But because they had other relationships in the show and social media didn't exist when they were dating, some A Different World fans have been shocked to learn in recent years that they were a thing.
"We thought we were slick," Summer replied with a crying laughing emoji.
Hardison wrote back, with a winking emoji, "I'd say we were, only took em 25 yrs to catch up."