Arguably the cutest kid on TV since she her debut in Sesame Street back in 1982, ever wondered what became of little Rudy Huxtable, daughter of Bill and Clair Huxtable and member of one of the best loved families on screen? Flavour caught up with the actress responsible for Rudy, Keisha Knight Pulliam to talk about being a part of history and life after The Cosby Show.
How does it feel to have been a part of the 80’s biggest TV show, The Cosby Show?
Well, it’s definitely a great joy and a pleasure in that I was a part of television history and history in general. The show is still very relevant and still watched and enjoyed even today. So many generations of people have been able to identify with me and my character and still enjoy it.
You have been acting since the tender age of 3 – starring in hit children’s show ‘Sesame Street’ and then moving on to star in the ‘Cosby Show’ aged only 5, what was it like growing up as a child actress?
I’ve actually been acting since I was 9 months old! I really enjoyed it, I mean a lot of people say that I didn’t get to have a normal life and what have you but I really think that I got the best of both worlds. Normal is relevant to your experiences and so if you think about it no one has the same childhood. I mean I was able to go to school and have a full-time job and learn from some of the greats in terms of television and comedy, and just experience so much at a young age that a lot of people don’t have the luxury of experiencing in a whole lifetime.
I’m guessing that your career was essentially chosen for you by your parents, are you happy with their decision?
I am definitely happy with their decision and I wouldn’t have done anything differently.
What do you love about acting?
I love that you can play different characters and different people and experience and do things that you may not in your normal life. I like the variety of it, the ability to be able to touch people and also the ability to affect a profound amount of people. I just love the vastness of the impact that you can have.
Why do you think the Cosby Show was as successful and popular as it was?
I think that the Cosby Show was as successful as it was because it really spoke to commonalities in people. It brought people together as opposed to dividing them, it showed how much more alike we are than different, and it dealt with issues that everyone could identify with, you know no matter what race you were or what your economic background was or what religion you were, none of that mattered because it was about people and I think that’s what made it successful.
You acted as Rudy Huxtable for eight years and so practically grew up with the cast, were you all as close as you were onscreen, offscreen?
Definitely! It really did feel like a family
Olivia Kendall who was played by Raven-Symoné Christina Pearman joined the cast in 1989, back then, did you feel like she stole any of your limelight of being the ‘baby’ of the family?
No not all. There’s only one Rudy and she can’t be replaced. I mean it was nice to be able to grow up a little because I had played the baby for so long, when Olivia came along I was allowed to finally wear dangly earrings and be a little more my age so that was cool.
What was it like working with Bill Cosby?
It was a pleasure to work with him and to have such a solid foundation from the beginning and to learn from such a master, and he was just wonderful to work with.
Who was your favourite Cosby Show character? Why?
I don’t know if I had a favourite Cosby Show character. I know I loved it when Dizzy Gillespie came on because I remember just being awe struck by his cheeks!
There’s a whole host of family sitcoms that have followed in the Cosby Show’s path such as Fresh Prince of Bel-Air and My Wife and Kids. What do you think sets the Cosby Show aside from these?
I think it’s because we were the first, we were the trailblazers so that in itself. Being the trendsetters is what sets us apart.
Who is your favourite child actor/ actress of all time?
Child actor of all time, I don’t know I’d have to think about it I mean there are so many wonderful ones like Dakota Fanning (Man on Fire, War of Worlds, Simple Life of Bees) that come to my mind but there’s not one in particular.
Do you think that you’ll ever be able to shake the image of the cute and adorable Rudy Huxtable?
Well I don’t aim to shake the image, I mean it was a wonderful role that I played and it was able to bring so much joy to so many generations of people and that was my foundations and where I started and now I’m just continuing to build on that
What has life since the Cosby Show been like?
Life’s been great, I mean I took time off, I went to school and then I started acting again, and that’s what I’m doing now, and I’m just enjoying every day that I’m blessed with.
You were in Chingy’s ‘One Call Away’ video in 2004, how did this opportunity come about? Why did you decide to do this?
It was actually kind of crazy, my brother works with Disturbing Tha Peace who Chingy was with at the time and they were like we really want you for the video and being that we all knew each other, I listened to the song and I loved the concept and I thought it would be a good reintroduction of me to the world you know to see me as I am now, well was then.
You’re currently starring in Tyler Perry’s House of Payne, what exactly is the sitcom about and what is your role?
It’s about an extended family and the daily trials and tribulations they go through, and you know the funny things that happen. I actually play Miranda who is married to the son and we just got married in the show, so this season we are very much exploring our newly wed kind of stuff.
You’re set to play a heroine addicted prostitute in Tyler Perry’s feature film, ‘Maeda goes to Jail’, how did this very different role come about?
I had done a couple episodes of Tyler Perry’s House of Payne and Tyler called me and said he was writing a script and that he had me in mind for a specific role. It was for the role of the district attorney, you know a very put together, studious type of role and when he was telling me about the breakdown of the film I was Tyler I really want to play the other role. I told him, ‘I feel like I’m up for the challenge and I think it would be great to do something out of the norm from what people would expect and I really believe in myself’ and he was like ‘I believe in you too let’s do it’.
You’re also launching your own production company, Pullpenn Productions, what’s the story behind it and what can people expect?
It’s something I’ve always wanted to do, a couple of years ago I produced a television movie special that I starred in also, and I went to school for directing and producing and you know the whole behind the scenes is very much one of my passions in life and so it’s something I’ve always planned on doing and I guess now is the time. Pullpenn is a combination of my partners surname, Penn and mine Pulliam. We started it last year, and we’re working on a couple of projects. Our website Pullpenn.com should be up within the next month or two. We have web shows that are coming, in addition to some shows that we’re working with for network television, so we’re doing a couple of different things, just making interesting, good, entertaining television.
What else can we expect from you in the future?
Just to continuing working hard, doing great work and enjoying what I do.
The Cosby Show Season 4 is available to own on DVD from the 2nd February, courtesy of Universal Playback, www.universal-playback.com
Words by Susanne Singh