Kaneesha From ‘Lean on Me’ and Charmaine from ‘Cosby Show’ is Now a 57-Year-Old HBCU Grad

Karen Malina White

Actress Karen Malina White, a proud HBCU graduate of Howard University, is best known for her roles as Kaneesha Carter in the 1989 film Lean on Me and as Charmaine Brown in The Cosby Show (1990–1992) and its spin-off A Different World (1992–1993).

She was born on September 13, 1964, and was raised in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. She studied at the Philadelphia High School for Creative and Performing Arts and after graduating high school, she furthered her studies at Howard University, where she graduated cum laude with a Bachelor of Fine Arts Degree.

During her senior year, she won the title of "Miss Howard University" and landed her first role as an actress.

During the 1990s, she made several guest appearances in various television shows such as The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air and Malcolm & Eddie.

She also portrayed Charmaine Brown during seasons 7 and 8 of The Cosby Show in 1990–1992 and Season 6 of A Different World in 1992–1993 and from 2001 to 2005, she performed the voice of Dijonay Jones on the animated Disney Channel series The Proud Family.

White has also been nominated for several award awards including the 1990 Young Artist Award for Best Young Actress Supporting Role in a Motion Picture for her performance in the film.

She once dated actor Malcolm-Jamal Warner, but has never been married and has no children.

Follow her on Instagram @KarenMalinaWhite