Michael Jai White

Written by Cherry City Comic Con. Posted in Actor, Special Guests

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Michael Jai (pronounced Jye) White was born in Brooklyn, NY and as a pre-teen moved to Bridgeport, CT. In school, Mike tended to hang out with the more introverted types, while carrying on a hard-core street persona. Always possessing a hatred for bullies, Mike would seek them out to battle and he eventually earned a reputation as one of the toughest and most feared street fighter’s in the area. At age 14, Michael had to fend for himself. Already 6 feet tall and 190 lbs., a deep voice and facial hair, he was easily mistaken for an adult. Michael began to make money teaching Karate at the local YMCA, fighting in tournaments, and dancing in contests. The former troubled youth graduated high school with honors and went on to college with no real direction about his future. Michael jumped around from university to university and was unsure about his major. While being uncertain he found time to squeeze in an acting classes. In college Michael never gave acting a consideration as a possible career choice. Michael found that he had a gift for reaching troubled youth and eventually became a junior high school teacher. For three years he taught emotionally disturbed children in the fifth, sixth and seventh grades. This endeavor is what Michael claims as his proudest achievement. Along with his growth as an educator, came the growth of the desire to act. Though reluctant to follow acting, he began to audition for roles in nearby Manhattan. He eventually landed commercials, theater roles, and bit parts in soap operas. Faced with the difficult decision to leave teaching, he finally did so with the blessing of his young students. In 1992 Michael moved to LA to pursue acting. Incidentally Michael’s motivation to act is channeled from the standpoint of a teacher.

“The actor has a responsibility to teach his audience the truth while standing in the shoes of the character he is playing at the time. Done correctly, acting can teach people about themselves as well as others. It has the power to touch and change the lives of millions at a time.”

Since then, White has moved into the mainstream acting world and has portrayed boxer Mike Tyson in the 1995 HBO Television movie Tyson and Jax Briggs in Mortal Kombat: Legacy. In 1997, White was the first African-­American to portray a comic book superhero in a major motion picture, having starred as Al Simmons, the protagonist in Spawn. White has gone on to star in the Tyler Perry movies Why Did I Get Married? and Why Did I Get Married Too? Currently, he stars, as Marcus Williams on the TBS/OWN comedy-­drama television series Tyler Perry’s For Better or Worse. Reaching back to his karate roots, White has signed on to be John “Falcon” Chapman in an installment of the Falcon movies which will release one of these action movies a year.  The highly anticipated Falcon Rising will hit theaters on September 5, 2014. White has said that the Falcon movies are the type of projects he’s waited to do” his entire career!” “Get ready folks cause this is the first of what’s to come.”

Some of White’s other notable roles include:

  • Never Back Down 2
  • Blood and Bone
  • Black Dynamite
  • The Dark Knight
  • Undisputed 2
  • Universal Soldier: The Return
  • Universal Soldier
  • The Toxic Avenger 3
  • The Toxic Avenger 2
  • Arrow as Bronze Tiger
  • Black Dynamite: The Animated Series
  • CSI: Miami

Martial Arts Background:

Michael Jai White is a legitimate holder of eight black belts of varying degrees in eight different Martial Arts forms. Beginning his Martial Arts training at the age of eight and achieving his first black belt at the age of twelve, he now has over twenty years of experience. Originally a student of the legendary Shigeru Oyama , ( at the time Shigeru Oyama was the world renowned head of the U.S. Kyokushin Karate Association) he is now the head of World Oyama Karate. White went on to achieve a black belt in seven other karate styles; Shotokan, ITF Tae Kwon Do, WTF Tae Kwon Do, Kobudo, Goju Ryu , Tang Soo Do and the Superfoot System. Michael just tested for and earned his 8th blackbelt at the JLFS/Superfoot summer conference(October 11th, 2013). He has also had years of Wu-Shu Kung Fu training under current American Wu-Shu Team coach, Eric Chen. White has trained privately with the likes of Bill” Superfoot” Wallace, Benny ” The Jet” Urquidez, Shihan Bobby Lowe, Shokei Matsui, Jean Claude Van Damme, James Lew, Don ” the Dragon ” Wilson, Peter Cunningham, Billy Blanks, “Judo” Gene Lebell  and Joe Lewis. White has also worked behind the scenes on stunt fighting sequences with Steven Segal. White himself has amassed countless trophies, awards and Grand Championship honors from open “point System” to inter-federational tournaments both home and abroad throughout his twenty-plus years as a Martial Artist. U.S. Open, North American J.K.A., World Knockdown Free sparring Champion are among many titles donned by White before moving to LA to continue his already successful dramatic acting career. Although in the midst of the glamour and glitz of Hollywood, White maintains that he is a martial artist first and still maintains skills competitive to any current champion of “fight” or “form.” “Regardless of what I’m into, I always want to be able to get on the training floor with anyone at any time. I am a Martial Artist, first. I apply my Martial Arts discipline, focus, strength, and spirit to my life as well as my acting work. It is a way of life. Life cannot physically or mentally put me through more than I have voluntarily traversed through Martial Arts training. I am ready for anything. From the Mike Tyson story to Spawn, four to five months of rigorous filming at a time can’t touch twenty years of sweat.”

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