Brian J. White
I went to Dartmouth College, graduated, and had the opportunity to play two professional sports - I played for the New England Patriots in the NFL and professional lacrosse for the Boston Blazers. I had an injury, so I had to stop so I could heal. But when I was playing football, I wasn't making a lot of money; I wasn't a superstar.
Every film by Will Smith, Harry Belafonte, Sidney Poitier, Lena Horne, Ruby Dee, Don Cheadle will have great acting and carry good messages in the film. The films starring those actors are the films I tell young people to watch for good acting and to view for quality movies.
I was raised by my mom. My dad was always traveling, but she allowed me and encouraged me to be close to my dad. So I grew up with three parents: my mom, my dad and my stepmom. Ninety percent of the time I was with my mom, and 10 percent was with my dad.
Acting was a lot like football. When you're a DB and you're one on one with a receiver, you're going to dance. It's go-time in front of 100,000 people and everybody watching on TV. That's exactly how it is when a director says 'Action!' It's the same adrenaline rush, the same training process. I love it.
As a little kid, not only is my dad Jo-Jo White, but M. L. Carr is involved in the family, Red Auerbach is my godfather, and my stepmother was an Olympic-caliber sprinter. Athletes were all around. I happened to be a natural athlete. If I wasn't, it might have been hell. But I never got any pressure from my mom and dad to be an athlete.
My mother was a secretary that elevated herself to having her own international company, my father elevated himself to an NBA player and perennial all-star. So I learned from my parents that it's about hard work, about both of them getting their education, putting people first and leading a life of integrity.
The actor that taught me the most was Bernie Mac. I did my first big budget studio film with he and Angela Bassett, 'Mr. 3000' for Disney. Bernie taught me by example what creates success is humility and hard work.
I came out of my professional athlete career with a 450 credit score, no money in the bank to show for it, but I had an Ivy League degree. So I put that Dartmouth degree to good use and got a job on Wall Street. I hated it but used the time to make connections and become financially literate.
I have my own dance and production companies, and acting is my creative outlet. It's what I'm passionate about. I've actually created a lifestyle where I could act for free. I could get a job to pay the bills and act on the weekends to make me smile.
I'm a registered independent. I don't really believe in political parties. Bottom line: Mitt Romney's tax policy helps me. But I can't stomach seeing somebody go hungry or somebody not being able to get an education because I want more. So, I'm supporting Barack Obama.
I'm still an athlete, I'm still a stockbroker, I'm still an actor. I think of it as more of an opening of new doors than an actual transition. I enjoy all of those things, which is why they remain a part of my life.
The trailblazers are my role models in this industry: Sidney Poitier, Harry Belafonte, James Earl Jones, and Billy Dee Williams. I keep their pictures in my trailer and try to measure to their standards every time I act.
When I started acting, I made a conscious decision that I wanted to be a character read and not a leading man. I didn't want to do the same thing again and again. I wanted to push and challenge myself. I find and embrace new and unique challenges in all mediums.