Celebrity Interviews: Michael Jai White: “I enjoy playing characters that have multi layers to them.”




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By Samantha Ofole-Prince
Photos courtesy of Anchor Bay Entertainment & OWN

Michael Jai White

Michael Jai White is the maestro of menace. With his muscular build and martial arts background, he’s made a career of reviving a forgotten genre – that of the ultimate “guy flick” with action films “Mortal Kombat: Legacy,” “Universal Soldier” and “Exit Wounds.”

As Al Simmons in the 1997 movie “Spawn,” he was the first black American actor to portray a major comic book superhero in a motion picture. Along the way, he’s also starred in a few comedies including the Tyler Perry films “Why Did I Get Married?” and “Why Did I Get Married Too?” and is the star of the comedy series “For Better or Worse.”

Michael Jai White in For Better or Worse

“There are those who don’t even know me as an action guy, because I have done so much of the comedies,” says White, who portrayed boxer Mike Tyson in the 1995 HBO television movie ‘Tyson’ and had a small role in “The Dark Knight.’  “Everything that got my career started has nothing to do with action and if you lined up all my work, I have a lot more comedy and drama than action. It’s almost like an alter ego type of career.”

In his latest film, “Vigilante Diaries,” the producer and prolific actor is returning to a familiar and favorite genre, which he says combines both action and wit. “Vigilante Diaries,” revolves around a team of black-ops agents turned crime-fighters, led by an ominous anti-hero, known only as “The Vigilante.”

Michael Jai White plays Barrington in Vigilante Diaries

“It’s very much a dark, comedy-action Tarantino-esque type movie,” says White, who plays Barrington; a guy he says is pulling the strings in all kinds of areas. “I enjoy playing characters that have multi layers to them and you learn throughout the movie that he’s connected to everything. Just like a conniving businessman, there is a lot going on under the surface.”

You’re never sure if Barrington’s the bad guy, and trying to figure out his motives in this espionage action flick is what keeps the film fluid.

“It’s funny as well as action packed. There aren’t that many movies that dare to go against the grain and be irreverent,” continues White.

Directed and co-written by Christian Sesma, “Vigilante Diaries,” stars co-writer Paul Sloan, Jason Mewes, Michael Madsen and Quinton “Rampage” Jackson, who White reunites with in the upcoming thriller “Cops and Robbers.”

“Quinton and I work out together. We have been friends for several years,” shares the actor who has produced several films including the martial arts indie film “Blood and Bone.”

With several upcoming projects, including the “Chocolate City” sequel, White is working on a sequel to the hugely popular blaxploitation action-comedy film "Black Dynamite" which he not only starred in but also produced.

“My favorite genre is comedy action. That is the genre I have the biggest interest in and look forward to doing those. Things that I produce will head in that direction and is what I am focusing on in the future.”

“Vigilante Diaries” is currently available on iTunes, On Demand, DVD and Blu-ray.

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