Malcolm-Jamal Warner on ‘Cosby Show’ Giving ‘Exposure to Reality’ (Exclusive)

When Malcolm-Jamal Warner reflects on his time starring on The Cosby Show, it’s with fondness and gratitude.

The popular NBC comedy, which aired for eight seasons from 1984 to 1992, introduced the 53-year-old actor to millions of viewers around the world as he played Theo Huxtable — a role that jumpstarted his career.

Starring on the sitcom was an experience that arguably changed the course of his life, and thanks to the show being based in New York City, Warner believes he led a more well-rounded adolescence.

“We weren’t in Hollywood, and there weren’t really many other shows shooting in New York. We all had to grow up with friends who were not in the business,” he told PEOPLE recently while promoting his new podcast Not All Hood. “And when you grow up in New York, there’s a different exposure to reality than when you grow up on television in Hollywood.”

“I think that foundation was a wonderful foundation for me, because when I was walking through the world, that show was not just a hugely popular #1 show in America, it was the #1 show around the world,” he added.

‘The Cosby Show’ stars Tempestt Bledsoe, Phylicia Rashad, Lisa Bonet, Stevie Wonder and Malcolm-Jamal Warner.

Warner credited his mom Pamela for giving him some much-needed perspective about how life and work would look once The Cosby Show eventually ended.  

“I was 14 years old, and my mother sat me down and said, ‘Listen baby, it’s great that this show is the phenomenon that it is, but at some point this show is going to be over,’” he recalled of his mom’s advice. “‘This show could be over next year. What are you going to do when this show is over?’ She said, ‘I can type. I can always get a job, but what are you going to do when the show’s over?’”

Pamela, a producer and talent manager, spoke to her son about “longevity” in Hollywood.

“If you look at anyone in this business who’s had longevity, they’ve had periods where they were hot and periods and they were not,” Warner continued. “And she said, ‘If longevity is what you want in this business, then you have to decide what you’re going to do during those times when you’re not hot, so you’re not out there making desperate career choices.’”

Warner has taken his mom’s advice to heart. In the decades since The Cosby Show ended, the actor appeared in TV and film projects such as Malcolm & Eddie, The Resident, Suits, Read Between the Lines and Accused.

‘Not All Hood’ hosts Malcolm-Jamal Warner, Candace O. Kelley and Weusi Baraka.


During one of his most recent appearances, a four-episode arc on 9-1-1, the actor found himself working closely with Peter Krause and Angela Bassett, whom Warner has known since he was 15. “To be able to do most of my work on this show with the two of them is such a dream and such a pleasure,” he said.

For his new podcast Not All Hood, which launched on June 10, Warner plans to explore the vast and diverse experiences of the Black community with cohosts Weusi Baraka and Candace Kelley, honing in on themes like Black love and representation in media.

“When we talk about the Black community, we tend to speak of it as a monolith when the reality is there are so many different facets of the Black community, and we wanted to have a space where we can really explore, discuss, and acknowledge all of those different aspects,” Warner told PEOPLE.

It’s Warner’s ultimate hope that Not All Hood will help “combat” the Black narrative often covered by the media.

“So many of our Black images and so much of our Black music shows one side of our Black culture,” he continued. “We want to make sure that we can balance that out with the many other aspects of Black culture out there.”

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Not All Hood is available to stream on Apple Podcasts and Spotify.

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