Meet the actors playing Dean Williams, his family and friends. And the creative minds behind the new series.
Elisha «EJ» Williams and Don Cheadle are young and adult Dean Williams
Elisha «EJ» Williams has been cast to play Dean Williams, the «new Kevin». Dean is described as «an inquisitive and hopeful 12-year-old kid coming of age in a turbulent time» who is trying to figure out his place in the world. «Though a little insecure, a tad awkward and a bit self-conscious, he is determined to make his mark on the world around him.»
Saladin Patterson and Fred Savage (Kevin Arnold) broke the news to Elisha Williams themselves:
Well-known actor Don Cheadle has been chosen to play adult Dean Williams who narrates the events shown. Cheadle is famous for his roles in «Hotel Rwanda», the «Ocean's Eleven» movies, «Crash» and «Picket Fences». More recently, he starred in several Marvel Cinematic Universe movies and in the TV shows «House of Lies» and «Black Monday». In his successful career, he won two Golden Globe Awards and was nominated for an Academy Award for best actor and several Primetime Emmy Awards and Golden Globe Awards.
Dulé Hill and Saycon Sengbloh play his parents, Bill and Lillian
Dulé Hill, known from TV Shows like «The West Wing» «Psych» or «Suits» will play Bill Williams, the family father. Dean's dad is a music professor by day and a funk musician by night. Adult Dean describes him as «The baddest guy I knew.» The character is detailed as «almost always calm and composed, his favorite words are ‹be cool›. Bill wants his family and their black, middle class neighborhood to remain self-sufficient» and backs that sentiment up with action.
Saycon Sengbloh, known from TV shows like «Scandal» or «In the Dark», has been cast to play Lillian Williams, the mother of the protagonist. «Sharp as a tack, Lillian is confident, kind, perceptive and has a good sense of humor. She knows exactly the right thing to say to convince you of anything. As a mother, wife and full-time accountant, she’s organized, efficient and hard-working, but she always puts family first.» In the original series, the mom, Norma Arnold, was of course played by Allison Mills.
Laura Kariuki, Amari O'Neil, Milan Ray & Julian Lerner play his sister and friends
Laura Kariuki was cast as Dean's teenage sister Kim Williams. Kim is described as confident, bright and popular. While the siblings tend to bicker, they have a good relationship. Her parents have Kim prepare for college, but Kim « is starting to rebel, telling them ‹Bobby Seale and H. Rap Brown didn’t even finish college› and that she’ll learn more from Eldridge Cleaver’s ‹Soul on Ice› than the SAT’s.» Kariuki is currently starring in «Black Lightning».
And Amari O'Neil will play Dean's other best friend, Cory Long, who had «everything figured out when he hit puberty on the early side.» Thus, Cory knows a whole lot more about fitting in than Dean does, constantly offering Dean advice.
Milan Ray will play Keisa Clemmons, Dean's love interest. She is described as «confident, smart, self-possessed and [...] not afraid to speak her mind and doesn’t take any guff from anyone.»
Julian Lerner was cast as Brad Hitman, one of Dean's two best friends. He is a smart, good-natured kid with a sense of humor. Adult Dean describes him as «the Pee Wee Reese to my Jackie Robinson. That is, if Pee Wee Reese were Jewish and Jackie Robinson couldn’t catch a fly ball.»
Allen Maldonado will play the recurring role of Coach Long, described as an «affable guy who takes his job coahing a pre-teen baseball team very seriously». He is also the father of Dean's friend Cory.
Dean's older brother Bruce, played by Spence Duane Moore II, is fighting in the Vietnam War.
When the show started, Lee Daniels and Marc Velez of Lee Daniels Entertainment together with Saladin K. Patterson and Fred Savage served as executive producers of the new «The Wonder Years» series. After Fred Savage was fired by Disney in May 2022, Saladin K. Patterson is showrunner and executive producer alongside Lee Daniels, Bob Daily and Jacque Edmonds Cofer.
Patterson was also writing the script for the pilot episode, Savage — best known for his role as Kevin Arnold in the original series — directed the pilot episode and several other first season episodes.
Neal Marlens, co-creator of the original series, is attached to the project as a consultant.