Actress Jasmine Guy of 'A Different World' fame will headline IUPUI King Dinner on Jan. 19

  • Dec. 20, 2013


INDIANAPOLIS -- Actress Jasmine Guy, best known for her role as the southern belle Whitley Gilbert of the TV sitcom "A Different World," will keynote the 2014 IUPUI dinner celebrating the life and legacy of the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr.

Guy won six consecutive NAACP Image Awards for her role on "A Different World," a spin-off of the popular "The Cosby Show." The sitcom, which ran from 1987 to 1993, followed the lives of Whitley and her friends attending Hillman College, a fictitious historically black college.

The IUPUI Black Student Union will host the 45th Annual IUPUI Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Celebration Dinner from 6 to 9 p.m. Sunday, Jan. 19, at the Indiana Roof Ballroom, 140 W. Washington St.

This year's King Celebration Dinner theme, "Press On and Keep Pressing," is taken from a 1956 speech by King. It acknowledges that African Americans have accomplished so much, and yet there is a need to press on until "there are no more Trayvon Martins and no rift between the races and ethnicities in this country, " said Gerri Black, the MLK dinner chair and former Black Student Union president.

Guy was chosen as a keynote speaker in part because she connects with multiple, diverse audiences. "I can remember watching Jasmine Guy (in 'A Different World'), my mother can remember, and my grandmother can remember," Black said.

And most importantly, Guy's stories of success and triumph in a world of challenges make her an inspiring role model, the IUPUI senior said.

"To be an African American woman in the entertainment industry (where) there were hurdles that she had to overcome ... and to have her share her first-hand account gives us hope that 'if we work hard, we can overcome,' Black said.

Guy is a frequent motivational public speaker, informing and entertaining audiences at universities, schools and churches across the U.S. Recent engagements include presenting a theater workshop during the November opening of the 20th season of the African American Theatre Program at the University of Louisville.

Guy studied dance with the Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater in New York and began her acting career as a dancer in 10 episodes of the TV show "Fame" in 1982. Her numerous film and television credits also include recurring roles in "The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air," "Melrose Place" and "Touched by an Angel."

Guy's keynote is the centerpiece of an evening that includes the presentation of two Black Student Union awards: the I Have a Dream and The Advocate of the Dream awards. Dinner tickets are $25 for undergraduate and graduate students; $65 for IUPUI faculty and staff; and $75 for community guests.

In addition to individual dinner tickets, table and sponsorship packages are available for purchase. Sponsorship packages on sale now range from $375 to $850 and include dinner tickets and sponsorship of student tickets. Sponsorship packages with advertisements in the dinner program are sold out. The deadline for table sponsorships and all ticket purchases is Jan 3.

For ticket purchases and additional information, contact the IUPUI Office of Student Involvement at 317-274-3931 or email Gerri Black at or Karina Garduno at

Diane Brown