What Happened To These Child Stars?

March 14, 2012  |  
7 of 7

by Marissa Ellis

There are some child stars that aren’t a mystery…like Jurnee Smollett, who has a bigger career these days than she did as a child star on Full House, and Jaleel White aka Steve Urkel who…well, let’s just say he’s always on the radar. But what about the others who may not be so recognizable to the untrained eye? You may have not realized that certain working Black actors today were child stars of yesterday, or maybe you wonder why certain child stars never rode their talents into adulthood. We’ve gathered just a few cases of child stars to see what they look like now and what they’ve been up to.


Kellie Shanygne Williams (36) played Laura Winslow on the beloved ABC sitcom Family Matters for nine seasons. She acted only in a couple of other projects after the show wrapped in the late 1990s including the ABC show What About Joan.


The Washington DC native married Hannibal Jackson in 2009 and had her first child Hannah Belle in 2010 at the age of 34.

It’s been a long time since Punky Brewster graced the airwaves. The oddest thing about that show is the fact that Cherie Johnson played the character Cherie Johnson. How often does that happen these days?



Since ending her run on Punky Brewster in 1985 and her stint as BFF to Laura Winslow on Family Matters, Johnson has been steadily working small parts.  The actress has exhibited some questionable behavior in years past however. Several topless photos of Johnson circulated on the internet, and Johnson certainly didn’t hide the fact that she was trying to score a Playboy spread. As of last year, the 36-year-old was engaged to Ricky Romance, brother of Raz-B. Apparently, the two were shopping around a reality show about their life together. Obviously, there were no takers.


Myles (Marcus Paulk) played the little brother of Brandy’s character in a show that we truly miss: Moesha.


Now 25, Paulk is doing well for himself. He had a substantial role in the recent film Red Tails and has been steadily acting since Moesha went off the air in 2001. Paulk got caught up in reality show ratchetness, however, when his name got tangled up in a messy affair which unraveled on The Bad Girls Club. Hopefully, he’ll keep his name out of that lane in the future because it’s not a good look for someone wanting to be taken seriously in Hollywood.




Rae’Ven Larrymore Kelly, now 26, made a splash in her role as the young Tina Turner in “What’s Love Got To Do With It,” and has been working the television,  film and theater circuit ever since. As a child actress, she also appeared in “A Time To Kill,” with Samuel L. Jackson. She hasn’t gotten her big starring role but we imagine it’s only a matter of time for the hard-working actress.





You may remember Noah Gray Cabey from My Wife & Kids. Or more recently, you may have seen him on Heroes. The professional pianist seems to be winding down his acting activity in the past few years, focusing on his education instead.


On last word, we hear that Gray-Cabey is preparing to enter Harvard in the fall after deferring his admission by a year.

Many people may have not realized that Sean Nelson of The Wood was the same kid who acted in Fresh, the 1994 movie with Samuel L. Jackson. He’s 31 now, and although he didn’t capitalize on his role in The Wood like we thought he would, he has remained active and working, with consistent guest appearances on Law & Order which lasted over ten years.





Zelda Harris has to be one of the most charming child actors to ever have graced the screen. Watching Crooklyn, we wonder what happened to the child who starred in one of Spike Lee’s most popular films. Before Crooklyn, Harris worked for years on Sesame Street. After Crooklyn, however, Harris slowed things down and eventually went to Princeton, graduating in 2007. In an interview with a Princeton publication, Harris said that her lack of activity in acting was due to the fact that there were not many positive roles available to African-American  actresses like herself. Boy, do we believe her.



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  • Lucky502

    Zelda Harris, yeah I remember her from the movie Crooklyn. Her character stole my heart.

  • LogicalLeopard

    Zelda Harris went to Princeton? Okay, that makes my day brighter! Good for her!

  • chanela

    the reason why cherie johnson is “taking small parts” is because she teaches acting at an acting school in hollywood.

  • Candace Lovell-Mcneill

    Sean Nelson was also in the cable miniseries The Corner wasn’t he?

  • Candace Lovell-Mcneill

    The reason many child stars are not on t.v. as adults is because they cancelled The Love Boat!

  • Naynay BossChick Williams

    wow, on my wife and kids Franklin was a genius, I thought it was just acing. that’s wassup, he really is smart

  • Suburban Princess Dior

    I always thought Zelda Harris when she played on CROOKYLN WAS GORGEOUS she is she pretty as well as the little girl who played cici on Parent Hood so PRETTY.<3

  • rickyricardo34

    he’s about to go to jail for domestic violence

  • RB

    Who wrote this article? Cherie Johnson is not engaged to Raz B

    • Christan-Joy Demeritt

      It doesn’t say she is…

    • NeicyN

      It clearly says she’s engaged to his brother. Reading is fundamental

  • efraim

    Hey Marisa Ellis, how about you put up your pictures? Please do it as we can all use a good laugh!

  • Kina

    What a lovely picture.

  • 2BStrong

    Kellie Shanygne Williams daughter is the cutest thing! I looked her up a couple years ago… she is a beautiful person.

  • Thatoneguy

    I got to meet Rae’Ven Larrymore Kelly at the National Black Theatre Festival a few years ago. She was very nice and classy.

  • tintin

    wow Sean Nelson looks damn good. i’ve always loved his ugly lips. they don’t look too ugly anymore

  • mik bailey

    Gray-Cabey would look much better with a haircut.

  • Nene

    All these people have been in recent made for t.v movies. I like the ones who are taking the time to get an education because we will need them in the future.

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  • Ssimond

    You missed the fact she was recently the host of Clean house.  Her most visible project of late.

  • Dai

    I have to say that these “where are they now peices” are not very well researched. For instance, Sean Nelson was brilliant in The Corner, Raeven L. Kelly is an award-winning actress for the brilliant TV series I’ll Fly Away, which she was on before a Time to Kill and Lou Myers has been in Kings of the Evening and Lackawanna Blues. What’s more disturbing is that a lot of the oversight in these pieces is of great roles in films or TV shows that featured African-American casts and story lines. Sad.

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  • Msmykimoto2u

    Why didnt yall mention that that Franklin from My Wife and Kids was the younget kid to ever enter the Guiness Book of World Records for his talents? Thats something very notable!

  • shehiplocki

    Sean Nelson is a great actor and I have always had a crush on him.

  • Kasxyz

    you are the worst journalist on the planet….yeesh!

  • Lightbullb3316

    Sean Nelson’s role in Fresh was one for the ages.  Great movie also.

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  • Lvnmeb4u

    hell what happened to Judy from Family Matters…she just went upstairs on one episode and never came back down lol

    • Allie1234

      they fired her something over more money. she was doing porn and was on some rehab show

    • Esha_99_2000

      Judy from Family Matters said her parents spent all her money. She was hooked on drugs and started doing porn. I think she was on Celebrity Rehab. I havent heard anything since then.

      • Allie1234

        i think she was on dr drew maybe a year ago

  • Lol, thanks for the updated pic of Zelda Harris MN. 🙂

    • Im not shocked shes where shes at now, all these kids were smart n sophisticated

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  • Allie1234

    can someone tell me what happen to kady (parker mckenna posey) off my wife and kids. i heard she had a baby

    • becca

      Parker Mckenna Posey did not have a baby. She’s 18.

  • Movinup

    Rae’Ven Larrymore Kelly was also in “The Preacher’s Kid” with Tank and LeToya Luckett.

  • Mrsadkiah

    Marcus….lawd have mercy lol! Yeah I’ve always found him attractive, even when he was kind of awkward on Moesha. Much better than Ray J any day

    • Saywhat

      Marcus had the best lines on Moesha. Don’t mind his looks, he’s a good actor.

    • papaya

      Ray J didn’t act, he was himself.

  • Elle8u

    Just watching ” Family Matters” this very morning, and wondering whatever became of her. So glad to read this and know she’s doing fine. She still looks wonderful.

  • FromUR2UB

    Hmmm.  Since most of these people are from the last 20 years, then I guess if I asked, “Whatever happened to George Spell”, you guys would ask, “Who?”

    George Spell was a child actor in the late 60s and early 70s.   Used to see him quite a bit on TV sitcoms, crime dramas and westerns during that time, and almost every show or movie that starred black actors or casts. 

  • I remember Zelda from Sesame Street!  They put her with Grover a lot.

  • mochaaa

    troy cannot be that old? what??? and i guess franklin was really a genius. harvard? u go boy. 

    • Passtheketchup911

      Yes and he’s only 16…that means he was prob 14 or 15 when he got accepted to Harvard-plus he was touring with orchestras when he was 4 or 5. He’s awesome!!

      • shehiplocki

         ….I agree, he is awesome….but I was hoping that as a younger child he would get his own show as a young genius….that would have been fantastic for him.

  • Kim

    He has also appeared in various HBO series

  • christielove

    That lady do not look like Zelda Harris. Clifton Williams;the actor who played Troy’s big brother(Clinton) in “Crooklyn”passed away in October,2003. He had sickle cell anemia.

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  • Squeezablechic

    Kellie Williams is a beautiful person. I contacted her on Facebook and she was so gracious.

  • That IS the wrong Zelda Harris (older lady) photo…that lady is a Dr. , but please dont put the mug shot of a criminal Zelda Harris on here either….OMG…..

    • Jay

      OK, that makes sense.  I was sitting here thinking that that woman didn’t look anything like her younger self.

    • Um yeah…MN Zelda Harris can not be THAT much older than me (no offense to the woman in the photo). Can we get it together and find her photo?

  • Mcclendon09

    Ms. Kelly would look soo much better if she took that plastic looking wig off her head.

  • Troy  (Zelda Harris) was in other movies
                       1:He Got Game
                       2: The Babysitters Club (Shhh… lets just ignore the fact that i named that…)
                       3: and she was also in some independant movie about her father passing away shortly after marrying a white woman.
    Come on y’all stay up on y’all research!

    • LOL Babysitters Club was the ish back in the day. No shame in that. 😉 I remember that third movie you mentioned, too. I’ve been trying to find the title of it!

      • Allie1234

        It is Clover with Ernie Hudson

        • aww i read this book. i gotta find the movie. the character seemed like it could be Zelda identically from what i read. She is the only person i imagined in this role

    • Allie1234

      3* Clover

    • cece

      Wasn’t she in this movie called the Piano Lesson based off of a play? Maybe I’m thinking of the wrong person??????

      • Allie1234

        yes she was with Alfre Woodard again

    • Here2Read

      The Piano Lesson

    • shame on you

      Thank you……your right

  • Media tricks

    Awe look at Laura. She still look good. And she look happy. That Noah look like solange lol boy.

    • papaya

      Lol @ Noah

  • LaLaLaMeansILoveYou

    Didn’t the boy from “the Wood” also have a starring role in “Coach Carter” and another movie co-starring Sean Connery (can’t think of the name) about playing chess or something like that? You all make it seem as if he hasn’t been doing anything (if I’m thinking of the right actor)

    • Jay

      That’s Rob Brown you’re thinking of.  Sean did have a lead role in the mini-series, The Corner, which was the inspiration for The Wire.

    • cece

      No, you’re talking about the actor Rob Brown.

    • Aurayia

      play that was a different boy..he name was rob brown

    • Paige

      I don’t know if your’re talking about Sean Nelson, he played in The Wood, and Miracle Boys, where Pooch Hall was the older brother trying to raise him and his younger brother, he also played along side Samuel L. Jackson in the movie Fresh, where Sam,s charater did not know that he was selling drugs at the tender age of 12, they  played chess or checkers a lot in the movie, he was not in Coach Carter.

    • Jamaal’sGirl

      He was also on New York Undercover twice.

    • Pumpkin_Pop

      You’re thinking of Rob Brown in Finding Forrester, which was a good movie

  • tastythoughts

    oo sean nelson made my heart skip

  • It’s me

    That is NOT Zelda Harris, come on now. You must’ve obviously done the wrong research

    • NSimonefan

      That’s a relieve.  Because the woman in the bottom picture is “attractive”, but the real Zelda Harris is a real cutey.

  • Anthony_606291

    biggggg mikeeeeee, dance fever huh lol

  • awet

    I always wondered what happened to Zelda Harris but why the heck does she look so old?! She’s only 25 or 26.

    • awet

      I think you guys googled the wrong Zelda Harris!

      • They did. I saw a picture of her like a year ago, and that’s not her in that last picture.

        • shame on you


      • Chanda

        Madame Noire just put ANYBODY on here. SMDH

        • Dev2008


    • shame on you

      she was a lot older then ”Troy” in the movie…she was about 13 or 14

    • LogicalLeopard

      I don’t think she looks old.

    • LogicalLeopard

      But apparently, that’s the wrong picture anyway! *L*

  • mike

    what happened to the kids off of everybody hates chris? they were good actors.

    • iRememberStruggle

      Those kids are still pretty young.

    • Allie1234

      i seen the girl on a lifetime movie

      • Naynay BossChick Williams

        whats the name of it? I wanna see it

        • SimplyTLC

          the Gabby Douglas story

    • MsRoss217

      The boy who played Chris is a sophomore at Carnegie Mellon in Pittsburgh

    • Christine Rene-Howard

      The actor that played Greg just had a role on The Walking Dead.

      • NYB

        He’s also the voice of Phineas on Phineas and Ferb, if that show’s still going on.

    • Tanya

      The lil brother has a role on General Hospital…

    • Cristal Carter

      Tequan Richmond(Drew) was recently on a sitcom on Tv One and I added him on FaceBook Lbs

      • Lala

        & he’s on a movie about the DC sniper.

    • dominic

      The actor who played Chris has a movie on Disney channel. His younger brother has his own tv show on Disney XD and their youngest brother has his own tv show on Nickelodeon

    • TaurusKid

      The boy who plays Chris was in a movie that just came out called “Peeples”. He’s not that old, he’s still a teenager.

      • SweetJo

        Tyler James Williams (Chris) is 22
        Imani Hakim (Tonya) is 21
        Tequan Richmond (Drew) is 21

  • Allie1234

    Rae’Ven Larrymore Kelly was in Preacher childs with latoya luckett