During an appearance on Red Table Talk, actor Darryl M. Bell, who played "Ron" on A Different World, revealed that Whitney Houston almost had the role of Denise Huxtable on The Cosby Show.
He explained, “Now I’m sure everyone knows there’s a Cosby, A Different World connection. And what most people don’t know is that there were two actresses who would be considered for that role of Denise. When The Cosby Show was originally being cast, the role of Denise came down to Lisa Bonet and this other actress. And when they gave this other actress the contract, she said, ‘Oh I can’t do this.’ And they said, ‘Why not?’ She said, ‘Because it’s a five-year contract.'”
He continued, “And they’re like, ‘Yeah, but this is Bill Cosby. You know who he is?’ She said, ‘Oh I do, I’m a big fan, but can’t do it.’ They said, ‘Well, why not?’ She said, ‘Because I’m gonna be a singer.’ They said, ‘Well, do you have a record deal?’ She said, ‘No.’ [They asked], ‘Well, why do you think you can sing?’ She said, ‘Because my mother thinks so.'”