Michael Jai White
New York City, U.S.
(m. 2005; div. 2011)
Gillian Iliana Waters
Michael Jai White is an American actor, director and martial artist. He was the first African American to portray a major comic book superhero in a major motion picture, starring as Al Simmons, the protagonist in the 1997 film Spawn.[note 1] White appeared as Marcus Williams in the Tyler Perry films Why Did I Get Married? and Why Did I Get Married Too?, and starred as the character on the TBS/OWN comedy-drama television series Tyler Perry's For Better or Worse. White portrayed Jax Briggs in Mortal Kombat: Legacy and the Cyborg Seth in Universal Soldier: The Return. He portrayed boxer Mike Tyson in the 1995 HBO television film Tyson. He also played the title role in the blaxploitation parody film Black Dynamite, as well as the animated series of the same name.
White is a martial artist in nine different styles: Shōtōkan, Goju-Ryu (for which he studied under Master Eddie Morales where he learned to sharpen his Goju karate technique), Taekwondo, Kobudō, Tang Soo Do, Wushu, Jujutsu, Kyokushin and Boxing, with a specific focus in Kyokushin Karate (although his style incorporates aspects of many different martial arts forms). White started training in the martial arts at the age of four in Jujutsu. He next took up Shōtōkan and moved on to other styles later. White holds seven legitimate black belts in, Kyokushin Karate, Goju-Ryu Karate, Shotokan Karate, Taekwondo, Tang Soo Do, Kobudo, and Wushu.
White is a former special education teacher and taught students with behavioral problems for three years. He cites his history in education as the reason why, despite his personal love for the music genre on "a lot of levels", he cannot "in good [conscience]" have a positive opinion on hip hop or "excuse some of [its] pervasive and destructive elements", mainly due to his experience with youngsters who had difficulty seeing the difference between it and real life.
White's first major starring role and breakout performance was in the 1995 HBO film Tyson, as heavyweight boxer Mike Tyson. He portrayed the eponymous character in the 1997 film Spawn, making him the first African American to portray a major comic book superhero in a major motion picture. His work in Spawn earned him a nomination for the Blockbuster Entertainment Award. White starred opposite Jean-Claude Van Damme in Universal Soldier: The Return, in 1999. A few years earlier, he acted in Full Contact, with Jerry Trimble. In 2001, he also starred opposite fellow martial artist Steven Seagal in Exit Wounds. In 2003, he starred in Busta Rhymes and Mariah Carey's music video "I Know What You Want". Since 2003, in addition to his on screen roles, White has been doing voice work, including in Static Shock and Justice League. White showcases his martial arts skills in the direct-to-DVD film Undisputed II: Last Man Standing. He also appears in Michelle Yeoh's Silver Hawk in 2004. He appeared in Kill Bill: Volume 2, although his role was cut from the theatrical release. His film Why Did I Get Married? opened at number one at the box office on October 12, 2007.
White played the role of the mob boss Gambol in the 2008 film The Dark Knight. He also starred in the film Blood and Bone and the blaxploitation homage Black Dynamite, both released in 2009. White wrote the scripts for both Black Dynamite and 3 Bullets in which he stars with Bokeem Woodbine.
On March 30, 2010, White appeared on The Mo'Nique Show to promote his film Why Did I Get Married Too. The two joked about the acclaim that comes with winning an Oscar. In May of that year he appeared in the music video for Toni Braxton's new song "Hands Tied" from her album Pulse, as well as the Nicki Minaj music video for "Your Love" as Nicki's sensei and love interest.
He also starred in Kevin Tancharoen's short film Mortal Kombat: Rebirth, as Jax Briggs, and reprised the role in Mortal Kombat: Legacy, a webseries from the same director. He posted on Twitter that he would not be returning to the role for the second season, but would return for the 2013 film.
In October 2019, White announced that the spiritual successor to Black Dynamite titled Outlaw Johnny Black had officially entered pre-production. Despite the Indiegogo campaign not reaching its goal, he was still able to secure enough backers and additional donors to get the project off the ground. It is available for pre-order on the official website. Its theatrical release date was 15 September 2023. In July 2023, its trailer was released.
In October 2020, White's latest film Welcome to Sudden Death debuted on Netflix and became one of the most watched films on the platform. The Universal Pictures Home Entertainment release is a remake of the 1995 film Sudden Death starring Jean-Claude Van Damme.
On July 12, 2021, White laid out a vision for starting a film studio in New Haven, CT called "Jaigantic Studios". He wants to create a studio district on New Haven's Quinnipiac River waterfront.
From 2005 to 2011, White was married to Courtenay Chatman and together they have a daughter named Morgan. In addition, White has two sons. In February 2014, White announced his engagement to actress Gillian Iliana Waters. In April 2015, White penned an open letter via Facebook entitled "Apologies to My Ex's", where he credited Waters for helping him become "the very best version of myself." In July 2015, White married Waters in Thailand. They appeared together in the martial arts thriller movie Take Back (2021), with Gillian White starring as the female lead.
In 2014, White was honored with the Fists of Legends Decade Award at the Urban Action Showcase & Expo at HBO. In 2015, he was inducted into the International Sports Hall of Fame. On November 8, 2019, he assumed the "Mantle of The Black Dragon" from Ron van Clief, Don "The Dragon" Wilson, Cynthia Rothrock, and Taimak, in a ceremony at the 2019 Urban Action Showcase & Expo at AMC 25, NYC.
|1989||The Toxic Avenger Part II||Apocalypse Inc. Executive|
|The Toxic Avenger Part III: The Last Temptation of Toxie|
|1991||Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles II: The Secret of the Ooze||Audience Man|
|True Identity||Alley Guy #1|
|1994||On Deadly Ground||Oil Worker|
|1996||2 Days in the Valley||Buck|
|1997||City of Industry||Odell Williams|
|Spawn||Al Simmons / Spawn|
|Thick as Thieves||Pointy|
|1999||Breakfast of Champions||Howell|
|Universal Soldier: The Return||S.E.T.H. Super UniSol|||
|2000||The Bus Stop||Unknown||Short|
|2001||Exit Wounds||Sergeant Lewis Strutt|
|2002||Trois 2: Pandora's Box||Hampton Hines|
|2006||Undisputed II: Last Man Standing||George "The Iceman" Chambers||Video|
|2007||Why Did I Get Married||Marcus|
|2008||The Dark Knight||Gambol|
|2009||Black Dynamite||Black Dynamite||Also writer|
|The Legend of Bruce Lee||Ali||Video|
|Blood and Bone||Isaiah Bone|
|Three Bullets||The Man||Short; also writer|
|2010||Why Did I Get Married Too?||Marcus|
|Mortal Kombat: Rebirth||Jackson "Jax" Briggs||Video short |
|2011||Never Back Down 2: The Beatdown||Casey "Case" Walker Jr.||Video; also director|
|Tactical Force||SWAT Sergeant Tony Hunt|
|2012||We the Party||Officer Davis|
|Freaky Deaky||Donnell Lewis|
|The Philly Kid||Arthur Letts|
|Falcon Rising||John "Falcon" Chapman|
|Skin Trade||FBI Agent Reed|
|Chain of Command||James Webster|
|The Asian Connection||Greg "Greedy Greg"|
|Never Back Down: No Surrender||Casey "Case" Walker Jr.||Video; also writer and director|
|2017||S.W.A.T.: Under Siege||"Scorpion"|
|Chocolate City: Vegas Strip||Princeton|
|Cops and Robbers||Michael|
|Making a Killing||Orlando Hudson|
|Dragged Across Concrete||"Biscuit"|
|2019||The Hard Way||Payne|
|Undercover Brother 2||Undercover Brother|
|2020||Welcome to Sudden Death||Jesse||Video|
|2021||Batman: Soul of the Dragon||Bronze Tiger||Voice|
|Assault on VA-33||Chief Malone|
|2022||The Commando||James Baker|
|Dead Zone||Boss||Tubi original|
|As Good As Dead||Bryant||Also writer|
|2023||You're Not Alone||Keith Mitchell||Tubi original|
|A Snowy Day in Oakland||Reverend Carter||Direct-to-video|
|MR-9: Do or Die||Duke||Direct-to-video|
|Outlaw Johnny Black||Johnny Black||Also writer and director|
|TBA||One More Shot †||Robert Jackson||Direct-to-video; post-production|
|†||Denotes works that have not yet been released|
|1992||Saved by the Bell||Military Police Man #2||Episode: "Wrestling with the Future"|
|1993||Renegade||Luther, Dawn's Boyfriend||Episode: "Vanished"|
|1994||Martin||Valdez||Episode: "Arms Are for Hugging"|
|Living Single||Steve||Episode: "Hot Fun in the Wintertime"|
|1995||NYPD Blue||Officer Reggie Fancy||2 episodes|
|JAG||Navy Petty Officer Peter Quinn / Lieutenant Martin Payne||Episode: "Brig Break"|
|Tyson||Mike "Iron Mike" Tyson||Television film|
|1996||Captive Heart: The James Mink Story||Elroy||Television film|
|1999||Mutiny||Ben Cooper||Television film|
|2000||Wonderland||Dr. Derrick Hatcher||Main cast|
|Freedom Song||Coleman Vaughnes||Television film|
|2001||Boston Public||Darren Schofield||Episode: "Chapter Eighteen"|
|Soul Food||Russell Banks||Episode: "Who Do You Know?"|
|2003||CSI: Miami||Officer Roy Bailey||Episode: "Hard Time"|
|Justice League||Doomsday||Voice; episode: "A Better World, Part 1"|
|2003–2004||Static Shock||Osebo||Voice, 2 episodes|
|2004–2005||Clubhouse||Ellis Hayes||Recurring cast|
|2005||Justice League Unlimited||Doomsday||Voice, episode: "The Doomsday Sanction"|
|Getting Played||Actor||Television film|
|2008||Tyler Perry's House of Payne||Bryan||Recurring cast, season 3|
|2010||The Boondocks||Bushido Brown / Cop||Voice, episode: "Stinkmeaner 3: The Hateocracy"|
|One Angry Juror||Derrick||Television film|
|2011||Batman: The Brave and the Bold||Tattooed Man||Voice, episode: "The Scorn of the Star Sapphire!"|
|2011–2017||Tyler Perry's For Better or Worse||Marcus Williams||Main cast|
|2011–2015||Black Dynamite||Black Dynamite||Voice, main cast; also creator|
|2012||Aqua Something You Know Whatever||Zucotti Manicotti||Voice, episode: "Zucotti Manicotti"|
|Somebody's Child||Douglas||Television film|
|Arrow||Ben Turner / Bronze Tiger||Guest (season 2), recurring (season 7); 10 episodes|
|2016||The Crooked Man||Milo||Television film|
|2017||Insecure: Due North||Zeke||Episode: "201"|
|2018||Every Day Is Christmas||Justin||Television film|
|2018–2020||The Family Business||Vegas Duncan||Recurring cast|
|2020||Black-ish||Vincent||Episode: "Dad Bod-y of Work"|
|1994||On Deadly Ground||Stunts|
|2006||Justice League Heroes||John Stewart|
|2007||The Underground Bounty Hunter||Hatch|
|2022||Marvel's Midnight Suns||Eric Brooks / Blade|
|2011||Mortal Kombat: Legacy||Jackson "Jax" Briggs||2 episodes|
|2012||Métal Hurlant Chronicles||Teague||Episode: "King's Crown"|
|2014||Métal Hurlant Chronicles||Balt||Episode: "The Endomorphe"|
|2016||Enter the Dojo||Himself||Episode: "How to Fight a Clown"|
|2003||"I Know What You Want"||Busta Rhymes and Mariah Carey featuring The Flipmode Squad|
|2010||"Your Love"||Nicki Minaj|
|2010||"Hands Tied"||Toni Braxton|
|2012||"Let's Go"||Calvin Harris featuring Ne-Yo|
|2021||"Where I Belong"||Busta Rhymes and Mariah Carey|
- "Michael Jai White is first Black comic superhero to star on the movie screen in 'Spawn.'". Jet magazine. September 22, 1997. Archived from the original on May 25, 2012. Retrieved October 17, 2009.
- "Male Celebs Who Practice Martial Arts", Jet magazine, Sept. 24, 2001, at pp. 38-39.
- Pollard, Edward. "Michael Jai White Ignites Black Dynamite". Black Belt Magazine. Archived from the original on January 2, 2010. Retrieved 2009-12-27.
- Taco the Town: Michael Jai White Archived 2010-06-10 at the Wayback Machine
- Howlett, Sandy (August 27, 2014). "The Kyokushin Karate Roots of Michael Jai White". www.blackbeltmag.com. Black Belt Magazine. Archived from the original on January 4, 2018.
- Black Dynamite Interview with Michael Jai White and Scott Sanders. Midcmedia. February 11, 2010. Archived from the original on 2021-12-21. Retrieved 2019-12-17.
- "Central High Distinguished Alumni". Bridgeport Central High School. Archived from the original on June 10, 2003. Retrieved September 23, 2023.
- "New Mortal Kombat Promotional Featurette Delivers the Goods". dreadcentral.com. June 8, 2010. Archived from the original on February 22, 2014.
- Morales, Wilson (September 13, 2011). "Never Back Down 2: Michael Jai White". Blackfilm.com. Retrieved December 11, 2011.
- "Justice League Heroes (Video Game 2006)". IMDb. Retrieved 2019-12-17.
- "Outlaw Johnny Black". Samuel Goldwyn Films. Retrieved September 6, 2023.
- Fuge, Jonathan (July 13, 2023). "Outlaw Johnny Black Trailer Sees Michael Jai White Wage War in the Wild West". MovieWeb. Retrieved September 6, 2023.
- "A Michael Jai White Remake Of A Van Damme Bomb Is Now One Of Netflix's Most-Watched Movies". Forbes.
- "Movie Superhero Lays Out "Jaigantic" Community Vision".
- "Jaigantic Vision Pitched on River Street Walkthrough".
- "Michael Jai White's Adorable Baby Girl". Archived from the original on 2009-01-24. Retrieved 2009-01-23.
- Bailey-Tureaud, Kimberly (3 February 2014). "Michael Jai White and fiancée Gillian Iliana Waters share the secret to their romance". Las Vegas Black Image. Retrieved 10 March 2016.
- Williams, Brennan (15 April 2015). "Michael Jai White Writes Letter Of Apology To His Ex-Girlfriends: 'I Believed All Women Were Crazy'". The Huffington Post. Retrieved 10 March 2016.
- Caslin, Yvette (8 July 2015). "Exclusive: Michael Jai White and Gillian Iliana Waters tie the knot". Rolling Out. Retrieved 10 March 2016.
- Blueskye, Brian (June 18, 2021). "Duo filmed action movie in the Coachella Valley during pandemic". The Desert Sun. Palm Springs. pp. 3A, 4A. Retrieved 2022-11-28 – via Newspapers.com.
- Hoad, Phil (23 March 2021). "Take Back review – dusty martial arts thriller looks cramped". The Guardian. Retrieved 2022-11-28.
- 2014 Urban Action Showcase International Action Film Festival & Honoree Awards. YouTube. Archived from the original on 2021-12-21. Retrieved 2014-01-27.
- Dr. Robert Goldman (March 13, 2015). "2015 International Sports Hall of Fame Inductees". www.sportshof.org. Retrieved July 14, 2023.
- Zirogiannis, Marc (November 9, 2019). "Michael Jai White Assumes The Mantle of the Black Dragon". Tae Kwon Do Life Magazine. Retrieved 9 November 2019.
- "Hey Family, Michael Jai White and Kym Whitley are Cousins".
- "Michael Jai White (visual voices guide)". Behind The Voice Actors. Retrieved October 7, 2023. A green check mark indicates that a role has been confirmed using a screenshot (or collage of screenshots) of a title's list of voice actors and their respective characters found in its opening and/or closing credits and/or other reliable sources of information.
- George 'El Guapo' Roush (June 8, 2010). "Mortal Kombat Fans, This Is The Hard 'R' MK Movie You've Been Waiting For". latinoreview.com. Archived from the original on June 11, 2010.
- Sesma, Christian (2016-06-24), Vigilante Diaries, retrieved 2016-08-29
- Taylor, Kelly (22 June 2016). "Michael Jai White on new film 'Vigilante Diaries' and finding his soul mate". Fox. Archived from the original on May 1, 2017. Retrieved 2016-08-29.