Who is Michael Jai White?
Michael Jai White is an American actor, stunt performer, and martial-arts expert. He has appeared in a number of action movies and TV serials. He has also appeared in a few music videos, video games, and web series. He started learning martial arts at the age of 7. He began with Jujutsu and then earned seven black belts in various disciplines. He bagged a major breakthrough when he was offered the role of heavyweight boxer Mike Tyson in the TV film ‘Tyson.’ His role in ‘Spawn’ made him the first African–American man to play the role of a superhero. His performance in the movie earned him a ‘Blockbuster Entertainment Award’ nomination for the ‘Best Male Newcomer.’ He wrote the script and choreographed the stunts for the movie ‘Three Bullets,’ apart from producing it and appearing in a role in the movie. He made his debut as a director with the movie ‘Never Back Down 2: The Beatdown.’ He also appeared in the web series ‘Enter the Dojo.’ White appeared in the music video of the song ‘I Know What You Want’ by Busta Rhymes and Mariah Carey, featuring the ‘Flipmode Squad.’ He is married to actor Gillian Iliana Waters and has a daughter from his first marriage to Courtney Chatham and two sons from a previous relationship. He has a large fan base and is considered to be one of the leading stunt choreographers of the entertainment industry.
Childhood & Early Life
Michael Richard Jai White was born on November 10, 1967, in Brooklyn, New York, US. He was raised by a single mother who was a teacher. He moved to Bridgeport, Connecticut, when he was in his teens and graduated from ‘Central High School’ in 1985. He then studied acting at the ‘HB Studio’ and ‘Yale University.’
He started learning martial arts at the age of 7. He began training in Jujutsu and then earned black belts in seven different disciplines, including Shōtōkan, Taekwondo, Kobudō, Gōjū-ryū, Tang Soo Do, Wushu, and Kyokushin.
White loved music but did not appreciate the modern hip-hop style of music. He felt it was too far removed from reality and chose to remain grounded in his approach to life. He was a history teacher and taught emotionally disturbed children before becoming an actor.
Continue Reading Below
You May Like
In 1989, Michael began appearing in minor roles in movies such as ‘The Toxic Avenger Part II’ and ‘The Toxic Avenger Part III: The Last Temptation of Toxie.’ He then appeared in an uncredited role in the movie ‘Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles II: The Secret of the Ooze’ in 1991. He then choreographed the stunts for the movies ‘Prototype’ and ‘On Deadly Ground’ in 1992 and 1994, respectively.
He also started acting in TV serials in 1993 and appeared as a military policeman in ‘Saved by the Bell.’ This was followed by minor roles in the serials ‘Renegade’ and ‘Martin’ in 1994.
His portrayal of heavyweight boxer Mike Tyson in the ‘HBO’ TV film ‘Tyson’ in 1995 was a career-defining move. His performance received positive reviews and proved to be a stepping stone to stardom.
With his role in ‘Spawn’ in 1997, he became the first African–American man to portray a superhero on screen. His performance earned him a ‘Blockbuster Entertainment Award’ nomination for the ‘Best Male Newcomer.’ He starred in the science-fiction movie ‘Universal Soldier: The Return’ opposite Jean-Claude Van Damme and in the action movie ‘Exit Wounds’ with Steven Seagal in 2001. He also appeared in the serials ‘Boston Public’ and ‘Soul Food’ during the same period.
In 2003, he ventured into the world of music with his appearance in the music video ‘I Know What You Want’ by Busta Rhymes and Mariah Carey, featuring the ‘Flipmode Squad.’ He later appeared in music videos by Nicki Minaj, Toni Braxton, and Calvin Harris.
White has also lent his voice to the animated TV series ‘Static Shock’ and ‘Justice League Unlimited.’ His performance in the martial-arts films ‘Undisputed II: Last Man Standing’ and ‘Kill Bill: Volume 2’ received positive reviews and his 2007 movie ‘Why Did I Get Married?’ opened at number one at the box office.
He wrote the script for the movie ‘Black Dynamite’ in 2009. He was the scriptwriter and the stunt choreographer for the movie ‘Three Bullets.’ He also produced the movie and starred in it.
He made his directorial debut with the movie ‘Never Back Down 2: The Beatdown,’ which was released on home video in 2011 and also featured him in a role. He also appeared in the web series ‘Métal Hurlant Chronicles’ and ‘Enter the Dojo.’
Some of his latest movies are ‘Accident Man,’ ‘Triple Threat,’ and ‘Making a Killing.’ White is presently working on the movie ‘Dragged Across Concrete’ and the TV serial ‘Spawn: The Animation,’ both of which are to be released shortly.
Continue Reading Below
Some of his most noteworthy movies are ‘The Toxic Avenger Part II’ (1989), ‘Universal Soldier’ (1992), ‘Spawn’ (1997), ‘Thick as Thieves’ (1998), ‘Exit Wounds’ (2001), ‘Kill Bill: Volume 2’ (2004), ‘Why Did I Get Married?’ (2007), ‘Three Bullets’ (2009), ‘Android Cop’ (2014), ‘Triple Threat’ (2018), and ‘The Family Business’ (2018).
He has appeared in the TV serials ‘Renegade’ (1993), ‘Tyson’ (1995), ‘Boston Public’ (2001), ‘CSI: Miami’ (2003), ‘The Legend of Bruce Lee’ (2008), ‘Black Dynamite’ (2011–2015), ‘Arrow’ (2013), and ‘Spawn: The Animation’ (2018).
Some of his most notable web series are ‘Mortal Kombat: Legacy’ (2011), ‘Métal Hurlant Chronicles’ (2012 and 2014), and ‘Enter the Dojo’ (2016).
He has been featured in the video games ‘Justice League Heroes’ (2006) and ‘The Underground Bounty Hunter’ (2007).
White has also appeared in the music videos of the songs ‘I Know What You Want’ (2003), ‘Your Love’ (2010), ‘Hands Tied’ (2010), and ‘Let’s Go’ (2012).
Awards & Achievements
He was awarded the ‘Fists of Legends Decade Award’ at the ‘HBO Urban Action Showcase & Expo’ in 2014.
White’s name was inducted into the ‘International Sports Hall of Fame’ in 2015.
He married Courtney Chatham in 2005 and got divorced in 2011. He later married actor Gillian Iliana Waters in an extravagant ceremony in Thailand in 2015, after dating her for two years. He has three children, including a daughter from his first marriage and two sons from a previous relationship.
Michael Jai White has 26 martial-arts titles to his credit that include the ‘US Open,’ the ‘North American Open,’ and the ‘New England Grand Champion.’