The term “blerd” refers to the Black nerd. From anime culture to the infatuation with shows like “Game of Thrones,” the uptick of Black people being involved in and profoundly supporting what is considered “nerd culture” is growing. And because none of this is particularly new, many can pinpoint the fictional character “Dwayne Wayne” of “A Different World” as the 90s blerd of the decade. Kadeem Hardison is the man behind it all.
From the flip-up glasses to the fascination with technology, Hardison’s character gave representation to those who may not have seen themselves on screen often. His ability to act out the range of nuances Hardison’s character represents made the opportunity to find a deeper community at an HBCU even more appealing.
Another significant facet of “Dwayne Wayne” was his on-screen romance with “Whitely Gilbert,” portrayed by Jasmine Guy. Their love story is often termed as relationship goals, and no matter what you think about them in that regard, their on-air chemistry made them a force and focus of their show.
And while it can be argued that Gilbert was the upgrade Wayne needed on screen, it can also be argued that Hardison held his own off-screen as well.
Kadeem Hardison was born in Brooklyn, New York, and started his professional acting career in 1981 by starring in “ABC Afterschool Special” before landing his first big and breakout role as “Dwayne Wayne.”
From there, the actor’s career would take off, and he starred in films like “School Daze,” “Vampire in Brooklyn,” and “Biker Boyz.” Hardison would also take on other television roles in shows, including “Between Brothers” and “Abby.”
Although Hardison has been in various roles across the small and large screen, his portrayal in “A Different World” is the most iconic.
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In an interview on “The Breakfast Club,” Hardison and Guy sat down to discuss the impact of the show, and Hardison revealed that a supporting role in “White Men Can’t Jump” showed how much he was underpaid.
“I met Woody Harrelson, and he was doing ‘Cheers,’” Hardison said in the interview. “And they had a way bigger ensemble. And he kind of let me in on what he was making. I was like, ‘What?!”
An Obvious Gap
As reported by AfroTech, Guy revealed that she was making $6,000 weekly on the show. While Hardison did not confirm an exact amount of his weekly earnings, he was genuinely shocked that as the star of the No. 2 rated show on television, he earned less than his white counterparts.
“I was like, how? He [Harrelson] had an assistant. He all kind of sh-t going on,” Hardison explained.
Fighting For More
Hardison and Guy both talked about how they had to fight to earn more on the show. Hardison’s way of fighting for more was holding out. In one instance, Hardison played sick and called Debbie Allen to tell her that neither he nor Guy would be in for the day.
The gag? Jasmine Guy was already on set.
And while that moment didn’t particularly work for him, Hardison did confirm that he eventually got more money.
“I got what Woody was making when I [first] talked to him,” Hardison said.
Student Becomes The Teacher
According to Kadeem Hardison, fighting for his worth taught his mom, who served as his manager, the power of no. When he refused to go back until he was paid more, Hardison recalls his mom being impressed about him standing his ground and realizing his worth.
“She will say, ‘right there, I learned about the power of no. And you knew your worth and wouldn’t go in and take less than this,” Hardison said of his mother.
A Career's Worth
With such an expansive career, Hardison has established a net worth of $2 million, according to Celebrity Net Worth.