Phylicia told People magazine, “Everybody who could walk tried out, but Bill told me I got the part by being Billy's mom. He said I did the scenes – about homework – with a knowing look in my eye.”
Cosby originally envisioned Clair as a Dominican plumber and himself as a chauffeur, but when his real-life wife Camille insisted that the couple hold professional jobs, Cosby agreed.
Born in Houston as Phylicia Ayers-Allen, Phylicia came from a creative family. Her mother Vivian Ayers was a Pulitzer-prize nominated artist and poet, and sister Debbie Allen is an actress and director who turned around “Different World” when she took helm of the “Cosby” spinoff. Brother?
Growing up, Phylicia said she felt overshadowed by younger sister Debbie. “I thought I was ugly,” she said in the 1989 People article. But in the sixth grade she gave a reading at a song festival. “I stood there in the light in a pretty dress, and I felt beautiful. I thought, 'This [performing] is what I'll do.'”