If you were a kid in the 90s, you were glued to that television every Friday to watch the most amazing lineup of shows. From the witchy antics of Sabrina to the packed Full House, there was a TV family for every kind of 90s kid to escape into.
If you were a nerd at heart, you loved Family Matters, and Steve Urkel was your leader. The dorky genius with the signature look was a bit obsessed with his neighbor.
We could understand why, as she was gorgeous, intelligent, and wasn’t afraid to tell Steve exactly how she felt about his presence. The actress behind the beauty and brains of Laura Winslow was Kellie Shanygne Williams, and watching her keep Steve in his place every week gave us something to look forward to. Let’s see what Kelli has been up to since her days of telling Steve to go home.
In Washington, D. C., on March 22, 1976, Kellie Shanygne Williams was born on the same date as another actress you may have heard of, Reese Witherspoon. Birthday buddies! Williams has two younger siblings, a sister Marti and a brother Donte. Williams attended Prince George’s County School for the Arts and Central High School before graduating from UCLA in 2000 with a degree in Psychology.
Kellie started her acting career when she was only a young tot. Her dad noticed she wasn’t talking as a toddler, and thought the local theatre program might help, and it did. After attending the Howard University Children’s Theatre, she not only started talking, but it led to her becoming a child model. Williams loved the stage and appeared in various theatre shows, one of which was a regional production of Cousins, as well as starring in some of those classic commercials of the time.
Believe it or not, Family Matters was Kellie’s first role on television. Not bad, considering she was barely a teenager when the show first aired.
In 1989, Williams was cast as Laura Lee Winslow, the oldest daughter and middle child in the Winslow family on the sitcom Family Matters. The series was a spin-off of the hit Perfect Strangers, and followed the Chicago-living Winslow family, made up of Mother Winslow, parents Carl and Harriette, and their children, Eddie, Laura, and Judy. A few episodes into the first season, the show introduced a supposed-to-be one-time character, their klutzy and dorky neighbor Steve Urkel, and the rest was Family Matters history.
Laura started out as any young teen on the series, a know-it-all who didn’t get along with her older brother. Over the seasons, she became a more mature, studious, caring sister, who was still bothered on a daily basis by Steve.
Kellie’s Laura spent season after season turning Steve down, making sure his inventions didn’t hurt anyone, hiding their family’s cheese stash, and getting Steve to leave the other family members alone.
Whether you thought their relationship was borderline stalker-ish on Steve’s part, or an adorable slow burn, in the end, Laura stopped telling Steve to go home. Like all sitcoms, they needed to figure out Steve-Laura drama, and the pair was turned into couple goals by the conclusion of the series. Yeah, they did that.
For all 215 episodes across the nine seasons, Kellie portrayed Laura Winslow on the second-longest live-action sitcom with a majority Black cast until the show ended in 1998. Williams went on to play her Family Matters character on the 1991 television movie The ABC Saturday Morning Preview and for two episodes on the 1993 ABC TGIF comedy series.
What did she do after Family Matters?
Kellie kept acting after Family Matters ended, starting with two episodes of the hit Moesha and one episode on the series Ride in 1998. From 2000 to 2001, Kellie had a main role as Alice on the series What About Joan? for 21 episodes, popped up in an episode of Girlfriends in 2002, The Parkers in 2003, and had a three-episode run on the series Eve in 2006.
It wasn’t until 2005 that Williams made her film debut, portraying Cami in the crime dramedy In the Mix, which also starred Usher and Kevin Hart. She played CeeCee in the 2009 musical comedy Steppin: The Movie and had a role in the short film Aide-de-Camp in 2011.
What is Kellie Shanygne Williams doing now?
Kelli is still acting, though not as much. She was Charlotte in the 2020 rom-com Christmas in Carolina, which reunited her with her Family Matters brother Darius McCrary.
In 2022 Williams starred in another Christmas movie titled A Family Matters Christmas, and no, it had nothing to do with her debut television show role. The name is just a happy coincidence.
Kellie’s upcoming project is the biographical film First Lady of BMF: The Tonesa Welch Story, directed by Vivica A. Fox. The movie just got the green light, is in production, and will be released on BET+.
But guess what, dear 90s babies? Kellie does get out for the occasional convention. If you want to scream your Millennial heart out, go see Williams along with Matthew Lawrence, Mark-Paul Gosselaar, Melissa Joan Hart, and so many more of your childhood favorites at the 90s Con later this year.
You could also check her Instagram page to see all of the adorable throwbacks and to stay up to date on projects she’s working on.
Kelli has been focused lately on being a wife and mother. Williams found her love match in 2007 when she met Hannibal Jackson, after being set up by a mutual friend. The pair married in 2009 in Maryland and went on to have two children, daughter Hannah Belle, born in 2010, and son John Ervin, born in 2012.
While Kellie’s time as Laura may be over, we will always thank the Winslow family for helping to raise us in the 90s, Steve will always thank himself for wearing Laura down, and everyone can thank streaming services for us being able to revisit the Winslow’s whenever we want to.