A highly trained martial artist and actor, Michael Jai White has broken barriers as a Hollywood star and international box office sensation. With his dynamic personality, agile abilities and physique of a bodybuilder, Michael has earned respect for his versatile talents both on and off screen.
Born November 10th in Brooklyn, New York, it was after watching the movie Five Fingers of Death, Michael’s interest in the martial arts began. At the tender age seven, Michael started taking weekly Japanese Jujitsu classes to stay focused while growing up on the tough streets of Brooklyn. By age eight, Michael’s family relocated to Bridgeport, Connecticut where he studied the Shotokan and Kyokushin forms of karate and earned his first black belt by age 13. Upon graduating from Bridgeport’s Central High School, Michael went on to further his education, first attending Southern Connecticut and then UConn. While winning multiple championships as a national martial arts competitor, Michael became a Special Education teacher at Wilbur Cross Elementary School in Bridgeport.
Bitten by the acting bug in college, while teaching, Michael began auditioning for commercials and acting gigs on weekends and summer breaks. Michael landed the lead role of Tom Robinson in the first Off-Broadway adaptation of To Kill A Mockingbird, starring opposite Tony Award Winner George Grizzard. Shortly after, Michael began landing jobs in commercials and guest starring roles on television shows and films; he eventually left teaching and moved to Los Angeles to pursue an acting career full-time.
Upon arriving in Los Angeles, Michael was offered the opportunity to star in several B-Level martial arts films, but declined wanting to first establish himself as a dramatic actor. Before long, Michael would go on to guest star on such hit television shows as Saved by the Bell, Martin, NYPD Blue, and CSI. Proving his acting ability, Michael would soon be cast for the lead role of legendary boxer Mike Tyson in the HBO biopic Tyson which solidified his legitimacy as a dramatic actor in Hollywood.
Michael was then cast to play the title character in the movie Spawn which came with the distinction of being the first black superhero in a major motion picture. As White cemented his Hollywood status as a bonafide action star, more diverse roles emerged that allowed him to showcase his physical prowess as well as display his on-screen charisma and comedic ability in such films as Exit Wounds, Undisputed 2, Silver Hawk, Blood & Bone, Black Dynamite and Tyler Perry’s Why Did I Get Married and Why Did I Get Married Too playing opposite Tasha Smith. The two would ignite such on-screen chemistry, they would go on to star together in the long running OWN Network series, For Better or Worse.
Having proven himself as an actor, White would make his directorial debut with the action film Never Back Down 2: The Beatdown, in which he also starred. Based on the cult film Black Dynamite which White created and starred, he would go on to write and produce the hit animated television series bearing the same name. He would also win over audiences in a string of films, including Chain of Command, Chocolate City, Skin Trade, and Falcon Rising. He also guest stars in the recurring role of Ben Turner / Bronze Tiger on the UPN series Arrow. He is currently directing and starring in Sony Pictures third install, Never Back Down 3: No Surrender, and will also reprise his role as Princeton in the upcoming Chocolate City 2.
As a martial artist, in 2013 Michael achieved his 8th black belt from mentor and legendary undefeated kick-boxing champion, Bill “Superfoot” Wallace and was honored by Black Belt Magazine as their 2014 Man of the Year. Continuing the legacy of such greats as Bruce Lee, Jackie Chan, Chuck Norris and Jean-Claude Van Damme, Michael is now the #1 martial arts action star in America.
Michael Jai White resides in Los Angeles with his wife, actress Gillian White and their three daughters.