Jasmine Guy (born March 10, 1962) is an American actress, director, singer and dancer. She is best known for her starring role as the southern belle Whitley Gilbert on the NBC television sitcom A Different World (1987-1993). She has also performed voiceover work for animation.
Born in Boston, Massachusetts, to an African-American father and White American mother, Jasmine was raised in the affluent historic Collier Heights neighborhood of Atlanta, Georgia, where she attended what was then called the Northside Performing Arts High School, later renamed North Atlanta High School. Her mother, the former Jaye Rudolph (born 1930), was a former high-school teacher, and her father, the Reverend William Guy (born 1928), was pastor of the historic Friendship Baptist Church of Atlanta, which served as an early home to Spelman College; he was also a college instructor in philosophy and religion. At the age of seventeen, Jasmine moved to New York City to study dance at the Alvin Ailey American Dance Center.
Guy began her television career with a non-speaking role, as a dancer, in ten episodes of the 1982 television series Fame under the direction of choreographer Debbie Allen. Following a move to California, she appeared in a 1991 episode of The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air as Kayla, one of Will Smith's girlfriends.
In 1992, Guy appeared in CBS's Stompin' at the Savoy alongside Vanessa Williams, again under the direction of Debbie Allen, and in 1993, she played the mother of Halle Berry's character in the CBS TV mini-series Alex Haley's Queen. This was based on Haley's book Queen: The Story of an American Family, a companion volume to his earlier Roots: The Saga of an American Family, which itself had been converted to a television mini-series.
Guy today remains best known for her starring role as southern belle Whitley Gilbert in the television sitcom A Different World. A spin-off from The Cosby Show and created by Cosby himself, the show aired from 1987 to 1993 on NBC. Guy wrote three episodes of the show and directed one, in addition to appearing in every episode: she started as a co-star, but ended up replacing the show's original star Lisa Bonet, who left the series. Guy was nominated for and won six consecutive NAACP Image Awards for Outstanding Lead Actress in a Comedy Series, from 1990 to 1995. She has received that award more times than any other actress.
During the run of A Different World, Guy released her self-titled debut album in 1990. The album peaked at #143 on the US Top 200 Album Chart and spawned three singles: "Try Me" (US R&B #14); "Another Like My Lover" (US #66, US R&B #9); and "Just Want to Hold You" (US #34, US R&B #27), with the last single cracking the main US Top 40 singles chart.
Guy's first appearance on the big screen came in 1988 in Spike Lee's musical-drama film School Daze. Guy played the role of Dina, a member of the light-skinned, straight-haired African American women of Gamma Ray (a women's auxiliary to the Gamma Phi Gamma fraternity). Filming on School Daze was completed just prior to her joining the cast of A Different World.
The following year, Guy appeared as Dominique La Rue in Harlem Nights starring Eddie Murphy (who also directed) alongside Richard Pryor with Redd Foxx. In the 1989 film, Pryor portrays Harlem "Sugar" Ray, the owner of an illegal casino who contends with the pressures of vicious gangsters and corrupt policemen trying to drive him out of business in 1930s Harlem. Guy's character was the girlfriend of Ray's nemesis, who set out to seduce and kill Murphy.
In 1997, she provided the voice of Sawyer Cat in the Warner Bros. animated film Cats Don't Dance. In 2011, Guy appeared in the film October Baby.
Guy married Terrence Duckett in August 1998, and the couple had one child, a daughter named Imani, born in 1999. But on April 8, 2008, People reported that Guy and Duckett were divorcing after ten years of marriage due to irreconcilable differences. Guy and her daughter subsequently took up residence in Guy's childhood hometown of Atlanta.