Haywood Nelson – Age, Career, What He’s Up To

Black Male Actors
Haywood Nelson

You should know Haywood Nelson, he portrayed Dwayne Nelson in “What’s Happening!!” a popular ABC sitcom from the 1970s. Haven’t been born or not yet of age them? Well, he reprised this role in the spin-off “What’s Happening Now!!” in the 1980s. If you still haven’t been born or of age then and if you didn’t get to watch any of these shows, it is on you. Nelson is not today’s star and perhaps that is why you are here. Here’s everything you need to know about the actor.

Age and early life

Haywood Nelson was born Haywood Knowles Nelson Jr. in Garden City Park, Long Island, New York, in March 1960. Little is known about his family but we are sure they had a big impact on his upbringing as he once said, “My family was my guide to my reality.” Nelson began his career as a child actor in commercials. Even before he became famous, he had a strong belief that he was destined for fame as he once told his teacher, while handing in his assignment, “Hold on to that. You have an autograph. I’m going to be famous someday.”

He became famous.

Haywood Nelson is 61 years old.

Haywood Nelson’s career and personal life

Nelson started his career in commercials. Some of the brands he worked with include Kodak, Aurora Cars, Polaroid, Johnny Lightening, etc. His first show was in the CBS series that ran for 54 years (1956 to 2010), “As the World Turns” (fondly abbreviated ATWT) in which he prayed the role of Jerry Smith from 1971 to 1974. He appeared in dozens of episodes before moving on to other shows.

His next appearance was the 1974 comedy-drama. Then he went on to appear in an episode of the NBC sitcom, “Sanford and Son”.

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In 1975, he began playing the character of Dwayne Nelson in the show “What’s Happening!!” As a down-to-earth and friendly character who is also good-looking, he became a hit with viewers and his catchphrase “Hay, hay, hay” became the endearing line for his fans. His sense of humor and wit made him, perhaps, the first teenage black sex symbol in Hollywood.

He was in the show for four years, starring in sixty-five episodes.

Nelson went on to appear in other shows and movies but in none of them would he relive his prominence from “What’s Happening!!” Until What’s Happening Now. In 1985, “What’s Happening!!” got a reboot in what’s “What’s Happening Now” and Dwayne Nelson, now 25, came back on TV. He was on this show for memorable 66 episodes.

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This was the last big appearance for Haywood Nelson. But Nelson didn’t leave the industry completely. He remained behind the scene, as a cameraman, lighting technician, writer, etc. He was not just in the drama genre as he contributed to the productions of talk shows and one-on-one programs.

Haywood is a married man with his last wedding coming in 2014. Before then, he was married to Sheryl Piland in 1981. He was just 21 as of then. The marriage broke up in 1984. Three years later, Nelson remarried, to a certain Diana Ramos. This married is blessed with three kids. He and Diana divorced in 1998.

What is Haywood Nelson up to today?

If you are checking TV or big screen’s credits for a clue on his whereabouts, you are searching the wrong sack. Nelson hasn’t appeared on set since his cameo in 2003, playing himself in the comedy feature movie, “Dickie Roberts: Former Child Star” directed by Sam Weisman and starring David Spade who portrayed a child star who grew up to live a life in obscurity. You could say this was the story of Haywood Nelson and you would be called mean but no one would say with complete confidence that you are wrong.

According to the entry in IMDb, Haywood Nelson “is an active humanitarian dedicated to encouraging artists to flourish and supporting the idea of exemplary education and ethical behavior within our communities and to providing youth with access to historical heroes”. Whatever that means.

Practically, Haywood Nelson is an executive in Skyewood oil company, a business he co-own s with his third wife, Akhanadya who prefers to be called Skye. She is known as the best friend and legal advisor of Nelson. Her nationality is complex as she was in Nubia, Egypt of Ethiopian parents, and raised in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, and the District of Columbia. The couple got married in 2014 and is extremely private.

Image source: Amomama



KC is a contributor based in Europe and learning the art, one post at a time