By Marcus Jones
October 13, 2020 at 12:00 PM EDT
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In order to stand out in the podcast world nowadays, a field that has only gotten more crowded since the pandemic started, one needs the perfect combination of host and concept. Enter Ever After, a new Audio Up podcast series from former Family Matters star Jaleel White where he interviews other former child stars like Raven-Symoné, Seth Green, Melissa Joan Hart, and more listed in the exclusive trailer above.

“I came up with the entire concept for the trailer,” White tells EW. “Everybody was too busy to get together obviously, and send videos or whatnot, to put it together. And a lot of people are quarantined. A lot of people on their ranches and in the mountains and the Internet's not great. So I was just kinda like, what could I think of? And it was just like, I love Dr. Fakenstein. I just think the dude is hysterical. And so Audio Up reached out and he was like, now I got an idea on how to even flip it even better.”

As for the theme song you hear, “I have to give credit to Jingle Jared, who was inspired to write the Ever After song. Jared [Gutstadt] is the CEO of Audio Up, who is also just a musical genius. Literally after just listening to one of my podcasts he just goes into his living room and was like, ‘I got a theme song for this. I'm going to write it right now.’ And it literally just came together right then.”

Explaining why he’s even doing the podcast in the first place, White shares that the idea that former child stars all end up troubled adults has been “a tough narrative to combat, even before the proliferation of what the internet is.” With Ever After, he hopes to show “the truth to what we lived, and [how] no matter how talented you are, you gotta be lucky. You’ve got to have parents that love you. It has to have been your decision to have been in the business, even at a young, young age.”

White initially conceived Ever After as a TV show, and even shot a pilot for it, but had to rethink everything once the pandemic hit. A producer on the project suggested it be redeveloped as a podcast, and the result has been more fruitful conversations than White had initially imagined. The newly minted podcast host avoids conducting “the same corny interview” his guests were used to, “where they ask us the same questions over and over and over again, only in different forms. And a lot of people like to create clickbait headlines.”

Instead, White and his fellow former child stars first give credit to the hard, complicated work they did at the beginning of their careers. “There's an old adage that 10,000 hours doing anything makes you an expert. So I don't think people realize just how many hours we put in. It's being on a set, or being in front of the camera, behind the camera, on a promotions trail... We're all so used to that. We bring a lot of expertise to it.” Citing performances from children that he’s enjoyed over the years, like Roman Griffin Davis in Jojo Rabbit and podcast guest Haley Joel Osment in the Sixth Sense, the actor notes “they're making choices. Like this isn't just some cute kid, you know, with dimples or big eyes, they're making real actor choices, opposite these pros.”

“On the other side of that is the inevitable transition point: Okay, you were a kid, now it's time to deal with real world realities,” White explains. “Bumping your head up against glass ceilings sometimes, dealing with your own family, dealing with friends, dealing with finances, money. Once we get into those conversations, that's where, like I said, a lot of us have a strong foundation with our families, and yet you kind of had to get lucky a little bit too.”

To book guests for the show, the actor jokes “it was kind of a little bit of six degrees of Kevin Bacon, only six degrees of Jaleel White.” For example, “Mayim Bialik, I did slide into her DMs,” White admits. “She didn't see it, it sat there, she's a busy woman. Another friend ultimately did put us together.” The show even dives into the sitcom icon’s connections that the audience never got to see on screen during a TGIF block, like Brian Austin Green. “We starred in the pilot for Saved By The Bell, except at the time it was called Good Morning, Miss Bliss, and it was staring Hayley Mills from Parent Trap, and they replaced Hayley Mills, fired all of us, got a new cast and they repurposed the show for Saturday morning, which heretofore was, that was unheard of,” remembers White.

As for the next batch of guests the actor hopes to book, one of the dreams would be to get director Ron Howard, who starred on Happy Days, which shared an executive producer with Family Matters. Also, Jason Bateman who directed an episode of Family Matters, and has since gone on to win a directing Emmy for his Netflix show Ozark. Keeping the element of having people on whom he has a shared history with though, White mentions former child TV doctor Neil Patrick Harris: “we had some really cool experiences back in the day on the affiliates trail for big upfront announcements. We have some funny stories that I think we could share. I remember being with him at a Broadway play and a woman called him Doogie, and it was a very funny experience. I'd love to get his account on it, his take on it, as opposed to me telling mine.”

Watch the exclusive trailer for Ever After above, and listen to the first two episodes of the podcast here, or below.

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