FOUND: Jamiee Foxworth
By Juli M. Wyatt, Special to BET.com
Best remembered as Judy Winslow, the youngest of the three Winslow children from the TV hit sitcom, "Family Matters," Jamie Foxworth was on our TV screens weekly (1989-93), and then, without a trace, she was gone. The character of Judy was merely written out the series at the end of the fourth season without an explanation and May 14, 1993, was the last time Jaimee Foxworth's name appeared in the opening credits while playing with her dollhouse. Foxworth was 10 when she started the show and just 13 at the time she was released. Now a decade later, Foxworth, who's about to turn 23 this December, still struggles with what happened.
At the age of 20, depressed, bankrupt and down on her luck, Foxworth turned to alcohol and turned to a different brand of entertainment. She became a porn star and appeared in more than a dozen hard-core porn videos. The sexier, eyebrow-pierced Foxworth, known in the adult entertainment industry as "Crave," starred in sex videos including, "Booty Talk 20: Super Fine Sistas," "More Black Dirty Debutantes 30" and "The Adventures of Peeping Tom 28."
"I got caught up in the wrong crowd. A lot of my friends were shooting porn films. I was broke, so when I was offered $15,000 to work on a porno I had to say yes. I was offered $15,000 for a half-hour's worth of work. It was hard to resist. That's easy money," she said. "It's not a lifestyle that I really wanted to get into, but I was desperate. It was more of a necessity. People said I had the body and looks for it and it paid good money, it paid the bills. Since I was a former TV actor I got paid a little more than the other girls. But I'm not very proud of some of the things I've done. "
Foxworth began her career at age 5, modeling and appearing in national TV commercials. She appeared on the television series "Amen" and "TV 101," before landing her big break in 1989 on "Family Matters." "Everyone always asks, 'what happened to you?' At the end of the fourth season my character walks up the stairs to her room but she never came down and no one ever mentioned me again. I just vanished. I remember asking my mom 'when are we going back to work,' but that day never came."
Foxworth's mother, Gwynn Foxx, was once an accomplished actress herself, but rumors circulated that she, as Foxworth's manager, had made demands to "Family Matters" producers that the child star receive more money. Instead of receiving a salary increase, the character of Judy, who was never given more than a few lines an episode, was released from the show and never seen on TV again.
Presumably, Foxworth was let go because the character was the least-developed and the show was beginning to focus more on the love-chase between Steve Urkel (Jaleel White) and Judy's TV sister, Laura (Kellie Wiliams). But perhaps most troubling is that Judy's disappearance was never explained in the storyline. "All I can say is that is was really a tough time for me. Looking back, I guess the writers and producers didn't know how to explain it, so they just choose not to. The producers never told me why I was written out of the show." Foxworth believes her mother's demands for more money is what ultimately led to her contract not being renewed.
The then-teenage Foxworth returned to a life away from the glitz and glamour of Hollywood, and attended Burbank High School. "It was a hard adjustment, I didn't really have any friends and people seem to think you're rich because they've seen you on TV, but actually, I wasn't. I never saw a cent of the money I'd earned on 'Family Matters.' " Foxworth's earnings, an estimated $500,000, had been put into a trust account that she couldn't touch until she turned 21. This is a common practice to ensure financial security for most child stars, but Foxworth, who at age 19 left the home she lived in with her mother, two sisters and niece, never got to enjoy the fruits of her labor. "When I turned 20 my family filed for bankruptcy and a judge allowed my money from my trust fund to go toward bailing the family of out of debt. All of my money went to cover the bankruptcy. I couldn't believe it. In an instant I was dead broke."
With the lure of fast money, Foxworth continued to make more adult films. "Alcohol helped. I'd do my thing for about 30 minutes, pretty much just one scene, and then the producers would cut me a check. In 30 minutes I was $15,000 richer. The money was great, but it was starting to wear on me, wear on my conscience. To be honest, I enjoyed the money more than I enjoyed the sex. But now I'm done with being Crave. I haven't done a movie in awhile. It's all behind me now. I'm more religious and I'm focusing on serious acting again."
Foxworth has returned to auditioning for television roles and contemplating a singing career (her two sisters are vocalists). She also works as an assistant at her mother's talent agency in California. "When my mom found out what I had been doing, I'm glad she didn't judge me. I'm still young with a bright future ahead of me. I'm glad my mistakes are behind me now."