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Debbie Allen says Whoopi Goldberg’s ‘A Different World’ episode saved lives during HIV/AIDS epidemic




Whoopi Goldberg was Debbie Allen’s “secret weapon” during one heartfelt episode of “A Different World.”

Cast members from the 90s sitcom reunited during Wednesday’s episode of “The View” and Allen revealed that Goldberg helped open the gateways to acceptance after appearing on an episode of “A Different World,” which centered on the HIV/AIDS epidemic at the time.

In the season 4 episode, titled “If I Should Die Before I Wake,” a professor Dr. Jordan, played by Goldberg, gave her class the assignment of eulogizing themselves. During her public speaking class, a student named Josie, played by Tisha Campbell, revealed she had HIV.

“I remember, especially, the degree of difficulty doing a show about AIDS, and Whoopi Goldberg was our secret weapon. She was someone I knew, we were friends, we all knew she was going to win that Oscar that year (for her role in “Ghost”),” Allen told “The View” co-hosts.

Later that year in 1991, the now-EGOT winner took home the Academy Award for best actress in a supporting role for her performance in “Ghost.”

Allen said “A Different World” was “the first network television show to address AIDS after Magic Johnson made his announcement,” referencing NBA legend Magic Johnson, who was diagnosed with HIV and retired from the league and the Los Angeles Lakers at a press conference in 1991.

“I had to do something. I said, ‘We’ve got to get a big gun to make this happen,’ and Whoopi, I called her, and she said ‘Yeah, I’ll do it.’ She was down,” Allen recalled.

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The famed actress, dancer and choreographer breathed new life into the show in its second season and helped make it a hit TV show.

“Folks needed a job, but this was also a unique opportunity that did not present itself, and you know that because you only saw one show full of characters who were brown, about a school, a college, some place you didn’t see us on television,” Goldberg said.

“It’s just a reminder. Any time Debbie asks me to do something, I just said, ‘Yes,'” she continued.

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