Jasmine Guy (Photo by Leslie Andrews)

Jasmine Guy starred as “Whitley Gilbert” in the late 1980s and early 1990s hit television sitcom “A Different World.”  But she never won an Emmy for that iconic role.

While on the red carpet for the 75th Emmy Awards in 2024, Guy told former “A Different World” costar Darryl M. Bell, with tears in her eyes as she hugged him, “This is our Emmy.”

Guy was speaking about her first ever Emmy for Outstanding Actress in a Short Form Comedy or Drama Series, which she won for the action/adventure series “The Chronicles of Jessica Wu.”

Guy remembered, “While we were doing the show [‘A Different World’], we never got props like that [an Emmy Award]. We just got used to not receiving it from white Hollywood.”

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Instead, she notes, a “Different World” received recognition with Afro-centric honors like the Soul Train Awards and the NAACP Awards. Guy herself won six Outstanding Lead Actress in a Comedy Series NAACP Awards for her role on “A Different World”— one for each year the show was on the air.

Guy also credits talk shows like “The Arsenio Hall Show” for being crucial to promoting Black Hollywood during a time when other mainstream shows would not.

“Getting on [The David] Letterman [Show]… the word that came back was, ‘I had been on Arsenio, too much. So, they didn’t want me on Letterman,” said Guy. “I don’t hear that with our white counterparts. Our white counterparts are doing Letterman, The Tonight Show, the next day, Arsenio.”

Guy continued, “They have access to everybody. It was very clear who our support system was and making sure we got covers of magazines. I was on the cover of Essence [Magazine] twice.”

“A Different World” was known for tackling poignant issues like racism, HIV/AIDS, date rape, and many more. Today, “The Chronicles of Jessica Wu,” the project for which Guy won the Emmy, is about a superhero on the autism spectrum.

Guy stars as Barbara Baldwin, the head of a covert organization. The show is produced by husband-and-wife team Zane Hubbard and Kimberley L. Hubbard for Ironbeard Films. Mr. Hubbard is also the writer and director of “Wu.”

“Because she [Jessica Wu] is autistic, it shows the various sides of the spectrum. They [the Hubbards] have a foundation called Autism Future, and they dedicate their work to it because their daughter has autism, said Guy. “They’re tying their artistic work into their philanthropic piece.”

Additional stars of the show — Brandon Larkins and titular star Helena-Alexis Seymour — are executive producers, with Jasmine Hester as a co-producer.

With respect to winning an Emmy, Guy says she had stopped thinking about it. She says the award has been an afterthought for the past thirty-five years, dating back to when she was still doing “A Different World.”

“The work is going to last past awards,” said Guy.

Guy maintains that during “A Different World’s” peak as the number two show on the air at the time, she and the cast had to recognize their work for themselves.

“When you see a show like ‘Friends’ getting best ensemble, the actors are getting their own series and movies, it’s a launching pad for them,” said Guy. “Well, you didn’t launch us.  You didn’t allow us to have those opportunities.”

However, Guy says she is very proud to have won this award from a project she calls “the little engine that could.” She remembers getting the news from a relative and thinking her first-ever Emmy nomination and then ultimate win was for a project other than “Wu.”

“I was like, ‘It’s for ‘The Chronicles of Jessica Wu’ and they got me an Emmy nomination?’” Guy says she was so honored to have won for this project because it holds a special place in her heart.

“They needed me,” said Guy. “I knew they needed a name to get whatever other money or other actors.  I wanted to do it.  It was good for diversity of my roles and meeting these young people. I loved it!”