Michael Jai White’s versatility as an actor has garnered him success in both TV and film. As a black belt in seven different karate styles, he has been able to leverage his deep connection to martial arts and emerge as a multi-faceted talent that possesses comedic chops while being one of the most recognizable action movie actors around.
Michael Jai (pronounced Jah-eye) White was born in Brooklyn, NY and as a pre-teen moved to Bridgeport, CT. An introvert by nature, Michael chose to express himself through a burgeoning passion for martial arts. By age 14, Michael began earning money by teaching Karate at the local YMCA and fighting in tournaments. He graduated from Central High School and went on to attend college. Before being bitten by the acting bug, Michael became a junior high school teacher and spent three years teaching emotionally disturbed children in grades five through seven. This endeavor is what Michael notes as one of his proudest achievements. It was around this time that Michael began giving into another one of his passions, the desire to act.
Michael began auditioning for roles in nearby Manhattan. He eventually landed commercials, theatre roles, and small roles in soap operas. Faced with the difficult decision to leave teaching, he chose to relocate in 1992 to Los Angeles to pursue acting full time. Michael's first major starring role and breakout performance was in the 1995 HBO film Tyson, as heavyweight boxer Mike Tyson. He followed that role up with playing Jax Briggs in Mortal Kombat: Legacy. He went onto to star in the 1997 movie Spawn, making him the first African American to portray a major comic book superhero in a major motion picture. His work in Spawn netted him a nomination for the Blockbuster Entertainment Award for Best Male Newcomer. Michael went onto star opposite Jean-Claude Van Damme in Universal Soldier: The Return and in 2001, he starred opposite Steven Seagal in Exit Wounds.
Since then, Michael has enjoyed mainstream success while delivering stellar performances on and off screen. He has been doing voiceover work, including Static Shock and the Justice League. Additionally, Michael has appeared in the box office hits Why Did I Get Married? The film debuted at number one at the box office on October 12, 2007. Its sequel, Why Did I Get Married Too? opened number two at the box office June 6, 2010.
Having maintained a strong connection to his martial arts roots, Michael has graced the screen of countless action movies as well. Thus, enabling his martial arts fans to see watch his mastery come alive. Most recently, Michael signed on to be John “Falcon” Chapman in an installment of the Falcon movies with the first release being the highly anticipated Falcon Rising that hit theaters in 2014.
When he’s not on the big screen, fans can enjoy tuning into Michael as he plays Marcus Williams on the TBS/OWN comedy-drama television series Tyler Perry’s For Better or Worse.