SBS: “I’ve never sold out”: Michael Jai White on career longevity, his “eccentric nature” and black superheroes
“Michael Jai White has a lot of s*** going on. He always has, in fact. Whether it was back when he was a high school teacher juggling a side hustle as a martial arts expert, or present day, working as a writer, director, producer and actor, he’s someone who likes to make unexpected choices. “I’m a very eclectic person and I’ve had this career that reflects my eclectic nature,” says White, speaking on the phone from Romania, where he’s currently shooting action movie The Hard Way with Luke Goss and Randy Couture.
“It’s the marathon not the sprint,” says White, who recently celebrated his 50th birthday. “And I’m happy that I’ve never sold out who I truly am. A lot of times in this industry they want to keep you on a specific shelf. I took this advice from Denzel Washington, who [had it given to him by] a great actor named Sidney Poitier, and he said, ‘Sometimes your career is shaped by the roles that you refuse more than the roles you choose.’ I believe that to be true — there are roles I’ve turned down that would have pigeonholed me. Sometimes it can confuse an audience when you play a lot of different types of roles — they don’t know who you are — but I think that can be a good thing, too.””