Mike White (filmmaker)

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Mike White
Mike White(writer and actor, SCHOOL OF ROCK, NACHO LIBRE, ORANGE COUNTY).jpg
White in November 2011
Michael Christopher White

(1970-06-28) June 28, 1970 (age 48)
Pasadena, California, United States
OccupationActor, writer, producer
Years active1997–present

Michael Christopher White (born June 28, 1970) is an American writer, actor and producer for television and film and the winner of the Independent Spirit John Cassavetes Award for Chuck & Buck.[1] He has written the screenplays for films such as School of Rock (2003) and Nacho Libre (2006) and has additionally directed several films that he has written such as Brad's Status (2017). He was the co-creator, executive producer, writer, director and actor on the HBO series Enlightened.[2] White is also known for his appearances on reality television, competing on two seasons of The Amazing Race and later becoming a contestant and runner-up on Survivor.

Personal life[edit]

White was born in Pasadena, California. He attended Polytechnic School and Wesleyan University. White is the son of Lyla Lee (née Loehr), a fundraising executive, and Reverend Dr. Mel White (James Melville White), a former speechwriter and ghostwriter for Religious Right figures such as Jerry Falwell and Pat Robertson.[2] White is openly bisexual.[3] His father came out as gay in 1994.[4]


White was a writer and producer on Dawson's Creek and Freaks and Geeks and wrote and acted in the films Chuck & Buck, The Good Girl, Orange County, School of Rock and Nacho Libre. He also had a role in the 2004 remake of The Stepford Wives, and the 2008 film Smother. Chuck & Buck was named the best film of 2000 by Entertainment Weekly. In an interview with The New York Times, Jeff Bridges called White's performance in Chuck and Buck "the performance of the decade".[5]

He frequently collaborates with actor–writer Jack Black on films. Together they formed the production company Black and White, which closed in 2006.[6] White is not a fan of classic rock, but he wrote School of Rock specifically so Black could perform his own favorite rock music.[7]

White made his directorial debut with the self-penned Year of the Dog at the 2007 Sundance Film Festival. White is a vegan animal rights supporter[8] and received an award from animal rights group PETA for Year of the Dog, which was also the third screenplay of White's to be nominated for Best Screenplay at the Independent Film Awards. (He won for The Good Girl.)

He was a member of the US Dramatic Jury at the 2009 Sundance Film Festival.

Laura Dern brought White into a project with HBO which became the series Enlightened that premiered on October 10, 2011. White himself had suffered an on-the-job meltdown while running an earlier television series and incorporated elements of that experience into the new series' plot.[9] Dern's character Amy Jellicoe goes to a Hawaiian retreat after her meltdown and is introduced to meditation, echoing to a degree White's own exploration of Buddhist meditation, and the character Jellicoe tries to continue the discipline as she resumes her working life. White wrote the pilot and all the episodes in the first and second seasons.[2]

White co-wrote the screenplay for computer-animated film The Emoji Movie, for which he received a Golden Raspberry Award.[10][11]

The Amazing Race[edit]

He appeared on the fourteenth season of The Amazing Race along with his father Mel.[12] They lasted for seven legs before being eliminated in sixth place in Phuket, Thailand. Mel and Mike returned to compete in The Amazing Race: Unfinished Business, where they were the second team eliminated in Tokyo, Japan.[13]


White was a contestant on Survivor: David vs. Goliath, as a member of the Goliath tribe, then to reshuffled Jabeni tribe and the merged Kalokalo tribe.[14] He made it to Day 39 and received three jury votes, finishing in second place behind the winner Nick Wilson.

White said he had been a big fan of the show, and because of his connections had developed a friendship with the show's host Jeff Probst, providing the host suggestions towards improving the show. At some point White decided to start trying out to be a participant of the show, but he failed to be picked over what he believed was a concern of having "sloppy seconds" from other reality television programs. White noted that once he was selected, he had had no other conversations with Probst until the game was concluded.[15]


Writing credits[edit]

Acting credits[edit]

Producing credits[edit]

Awards and nominations[edit]


  1. ^ Chocano, Carina (October 7, 2011). "Stuff Mike White Likes". The New York Times. Retrieved November 23, 2011.
  2. ^ a b c d "HBO's 'Enlightened' Take On Modern Meditation", Fresh Air interview with Dern and White on NPR, October 10, 2011. Retrieved October 10, 2011.
  3. ^ "Advocate, The: White out: writer-producer Mike White comes out and discusses the gay subtext in his new comedy, Orange County – film – Brief Article – Critical Essay – Interview". March 2, 2012. Archived from the original on November 8, 2004. Retrieved November 23, 2011.
  4. ^ Steve Inskeep. "Religion, Politics a Potent Mix for Jerry Falwell", NPR, June 30, 2006.
  5. ^ "The Best Performances of the Decade". New York Times. February 17, 2010. Retrieved February 19, 2013.
  6. ^ "Jack Black to Produce in College Football, Big Paydays for Humiliation". Movieweb.com. Retrieved November 23, 2011.
  7. ^ Fresh Air from WHYY. "Mike White Goes to the 'Dog'". NPR. Retrieved November 23, 2011.
  8. ^ "PETA Media Center > Recent News Releases : Year of the Dog Voted Best Animal-Friendly Movie in Second Annual peta2 Libby Awards". Peta.org. Archived from the original on April 29, 2009. Retrieved November 23, 2011.
  9. ^ An "Enlightened" Mike White Wants to Change TV, The New Republic. By Laura Bennett. January 17, 2013. Retrieved January 23, 2013.
  10. ^ Buchanan, Kyle. "Everyone in Hollywood Is Envious. Mike White Is Willing to Talk About It". Vulture. Retrieved December 13, 2018.
  11. ^ McNary, Dave; McNary, Dave (March 3, 2018). "'The Emoji Movie' Wins Razzies' Worst Movie Award". Variety. Retrieved December 13, 2018.
  12. ^ "Mel and Mike: Amazing Race". CBS. Retrieved January 26, 2009.
  13. ^ Olmstead, Kasey (November 22, 2010). "The Amazing Race 18: All Stars! (Spoilers)". Archived from the original on December 6, 2010. Retrieved November 23, 2011.
  14. ^ "'Survivor': Filmmaker Mike White, Wrestler John Hennigan to Compete on Season 37".
  15. ^ Schneider, Michael (September 26, 2018). "Mike White Found Enlightenment by Competing on 'Survivor' — Where Even His Agent Couldn't Find Him". Indiewire. Retrieved October 23, 2018.
  16. ^ "'Harry Potter' Director Mike Newell to Tackle 'The One and Only Ivan' for Disney (Exclusive)". The Hollywood Reporter. Retrieved November 1, 2016.
  17. ^ Laura Dern Is Enlightened, Slate.com. by Troy Patterson. October 14, 2011. Retrieved December 18, 2011.
  18. ^ "Laura Dern Stars in Enlightened". Sky Atlantic website. October 1, 2011. Retrieved October 28, 2011.
  19. ^ IMDB, Mike White, Enlightened, Acting Credits. Retrieved December 18, 2011.

External links[edit]