Mike White (filmmaker)

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Mike White
Mike White in 2011.jpg
White in November 2011
Michael Christopher White

(1970-06-28) June 28, 1970 (age 51)
Alma materWesleyan University
OccupationActor, writer, producer & director
Years active1997–present

Michael Christopher White (born June 28, 1970) is an American writer, actor and producer for television and film, and reality television show contestant. He has won numerous awards, including the Independent Spirit John Cassavetes Award for the 2000 film Chuck & Buck, which he wrote and starred in.[1] He has written the screenplays for films such as School of Rock (2003) and Nacho Libre (2006) and has 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. He created, wrote, and directed the 2021 HBO satire comedy miniseries The White Lotus.

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. James Melville "Mel" 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, in which White portrayed a manchild who stalks his childhood friend, 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 & 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.[citation needed] 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. Dern's character, Amy Jellicoe, goes to a Hawaiian retreat after her professional life publicly implodes, and is introduced to meditation. White himself had suffered an on-the-job meltdown while running an earlier television series, and incorporated elements of that experience, as well as his own exploration of Buddhist meditation, into the new series' plot.[8] 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.[9][10] He wrote and directed the 2017 film Brad's Status.

In 2021, White created, wrote, and directed The White Lotus, a satire limited series for HBO.[11][12]

The Amazing Race[edit]

He appeared on the fourteenth season of The Amazing Race along with his father Mel.[13] 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 Japan.[14]


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.[15] 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. For instance, Probst stated that it was White who discouraged him from bringing back Redemption Island for Survivor: San Juan del Sur.[16] 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.[17]



Filmmaking credits[edit]

Title Year Director Writer Producer Notes
Dead Man on Campus 1998 Yes
Chuck & Buck 2000 Yes
Orange County 2002 Yes
The Good Girl 2002 Yes
School of Rock 2003 Yes
Nacho Libre 2006 Yes Yes
Year of the Dog 2007 Yes Yes Yes Directorial debut
The Hills with James Franco and Mila Kunis 2007 Yes Short film
Gentlemen Broncos 2009 Yes
Magic Magic 2013 Yes
The D Train 2015 Yes
Beatriz at Dinner 2017 Yes
The Emoji Movie 2017 Yes
Brad's Status 2017 Yes Yes
Pitch Perfect 3 2017 Yes
The One and Only Ivan 2020 Yes

Acting credits[edit]

Title Year Role Notes
Star Maps 1997 Carmel County Writer
Chuck & Buck 2000 Buck O'Brien
Orange County 2002 Mr. Burke
The Good Girl 2002 Corny
School of Rock 2003 Ned Schneebly
The Stepford Wives 2004 Hank
Are You the Favorite Person of Anybody? 2005 Respondent Short film
Welcome to California 2005 John Goodman
Smother 2008 Myron Stubbs
Gentlemen Broncos 2009 Dusty
Zombieland 2009 Gas Station Clerk
Ride 2014 Roger
The D Train 2015 Jerry
Brad's Status 2017 Nick Pascale
The One and Only Ivan 2020 Frankie (voice) / Passing Driver


Filmmaking credits[edit]

Title Year(s) Director Writer Producer Creator Notes
Dawson's Creek 1998–1999 Yes Supervising Wrote 9 episodes / Produced 22 episodes
Freaks and Geeks 2000 Yes Supervising Wrote 3 episodes / Produced 17 episodes
Pasadena 2001–2002 Yes Executive Yes Created and produced 13 episodes / Wrote 6 episodes.
Cracking Up 2004–2006 Yes Executive Yes Created and produced 12 episodes / Wrote episode: "The Fixer"
Earth to America 2005 Yes Television special
Enlightened 2011–2013 Yes Yes Executive Yes Created, wrote and produced 18 episodes / Directed 6 episodes
The Boring Life of Jacqueline 2012 Executive 10 episodes
Mamma Dallas 2016 Yes Yes Executive Television film
School of Rock 2016 Yes Episode: "Come Together" / Also wrote original theatrical film
The White Lotus 2021 Yes Yes Executive Yes Miniseries[18]

Acting credits[edit]

Title Year(s) Role Notes
Freaks and Geeks 2000 Chip Kelly Episode: "Kim Kelly Is My Friend"
Undeclared 2001 Pet Store Employee Episode: "Eric Visits"
Pushing Daisies 2007 Billy Balsam Episode: "Bitter Sweets"
Enlightened 2011–2013 Tyler 15 episodes
Mamma Dallas 2016 Himself Television film

Non-acting credits[edit]

Title Year Notes
Dog Whisperer with Cesar Millan 2007 Dog Owner
The Amazing Race 14 2009 6th Place
The Amazing Race: Unfinished Business 2011 10th Place
Survivor: David vs. Goliath 2018 Runner-up

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 "HBO's 'Enlightened' Take On Modern Meditation", Fresh Air interview with Dern and White on NPR, October 10, 2011. Retrieved October 10, 2011.
  3. ^ Ferer, Lawrence (March 2, 2012). "White out: writer-producer Mike White comes out and discusses the gay subtext in his new comedy, Orange County". The Advocate. 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". The 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. ^ "Mike White Goes to the 'Dog'". Fresh Air from WHYY. NPR. Retrieved November 23, 2011.
  8. ^ Bennett, Laura (January 17, 2013). "An 'Enlightened' Mike White Wants to Change TV". The New Republic. Retrieved January 23, 2013.
  9. ^ Buchanan, Kyle (September 13, 2017). "Everyone in Hollywood Is Envious. Mike White Is Willing to Talk About It". Vulture. Retrieved December 13, 2018.
  10. ^ McNary, Dave (March 3, 2018). "'The Emoji Movie' Wins Razzies' Worst Movie Award". Variety. Retrieved December 13, 2018.
  11. ^ White, Peter (October 19, 2020). "'Enlightened's Mike White Sets Limited Social Satire 'The White Lotus' At HBO With Connie Britton, Natasha Rothwell & Sydney Sweeney Among Cast". Deadline Hollywood. Retrieved August 2, 2021.
  12. ^ "New HBO Limited Series THE WHITE LOTUS From Mike White Debuts July 11". WarnerMedia. May 10, 2021. Retrieved August 2, 2021.
  13. ^ "Mel and Mike: Amazing Race". CBS. Retrieved January 26, 2009.
  14. ^ Olmstead, Kasey (November 22, 2010). "The Amazing Race 18: All Stars! (Spoilers)". Archived from the original on December 6, 2010. Retrieved November 23, 2011.
  15. ^ Ross, Dalton (September 13, 2018). "'Survivor': Filmmaker Mike White, Wrestler John Hennigan to Compete on Season 37". The Hollywood Reporter.
  16. ^ Ross, Dalton (September 13, 2018). "Mike White takes credit for killing Redemption Island on 'Survivor'". Entertainment Weekly. Retrieved March 21, 2020.
  17. ^ 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.
  18. ^ White, Peter (October 19, 2020). "'Enlightened's Mike White Sets Limited Social Satire 'The White Lotus' At HBO With Connie Britton, Natasha Rothwell & Sydney Sweeney Among Cast". Deadline Hollywood. Retrieved October 19, 2020.

External links[edit]

Preceded by
Domenick Abbate
Runner-Up of Survivor
Survivor: David vs. Goliath
Succeeded by
Gavin Whitson