A Different World Wiki

Character History[]

A native of Richmond, Virginia, Whitley is the daughter of Hillman alumni Mercer & Marion Gilbert. She is an alumna of Hillman College, where she majored in French and Art History.

Whitley was paired romantically with Dwayne Wayne, with whom she had an on again-off again relationship. She originally went to college to land a husband, although she quickly realized she enjoyed art history and stayed at Hillman for a fifth year to take business courses.

After graduating cum laude from Hillman, Whitley became engaged to Dwayne and worked a part-time job at E.H. Wright Industries as an assistant art buyer & was also a dorm director at Hillman.

After discovering that Dwayne went on a date with another woman, Whitley broke off their engagement and goes on to date (and later gets engaged) to Hillman alumnus and Virginia state senatorial candidate, Byron Douglas III.

In the fifth season finale, Dwayne surprises Whitley by visiting her the night before her wedding to declare his love for her. In the end, Whitley leaves Byron at the altar to marry Dwayne.

She and Dwayne elope and spend their honeymoon in Los Angeles, California (which coincided with the 1992 riots following the verdict in the Rodney King trial).

After being laid off at E.H. Wright Industries, Whitley was employed in a series of odd jobs (such as working as a teacher in a low-income neighborhood).

At the end of the series, she moves with Dwayne to Japan for his job and it is revealed that she is pregnant with their first child.

Dwayne and Whitley are still happily married and it is later shown that Whitley becomes a best selling author and Dwayne invents the flip phone inspired by his flip-up glasses.


Whitley began the series with a snobby, prissy attitude which caused her to be disliked by many of the characters.

After Denise's character left the show after the first season, "A Different World" was retooled to feature her as the lead character and her attitude had mellowed out.