Since 1997, when he became the first Black actor to portray a comic book superhero in a major motion picture, Michael Jai White has been “bae” in our hearts. How could anyone deny that chiseled midsection, ripped arms, handsome face and alluring voice?
White is known for his heartthrob status and is in a lane all his own when it comes to acting. The martial artist brought life to roles like Black Dynamite, Spawn, Nicki Minaj’s “Your Love” video and more. While films like Tyler Perry’s Why Did I Get Married portrayed him in a passive light, his latest role in Skin Trade proves that he can still kick major ass.
The iconic actor chatted with us about his role in Skin Trade, how he prepared for his role in the soon-to-come chick flick Chocolate City and the near death experience that left him professing his love for the woman in his life, Gillian Iliana Waters.
HelloBeautiful: Tell us about your character in Skin Trade
Michael Jai White: My character is a federal agent and I’m on the hunt for the people in the skin trade- the human traffickers. There’s a lot of twist and turns in the movie. It’s hard to tell who’s on which side until it’s all exposed.
HB: You’re also starring in Chocolate City, What can you tell us about the flick?
MJW: It’s kind of like an urban Magic Mike and I’m more of the Matthew McConaughey – I’m the club owner. My shirt taking days are kinda over. I’m a suit and tie guy.
HB: Were there any moments when you felt like you needed to walk off set?
MJW: I actually studied how these places worked. I checked out a few – the male revue type places – and did my research. It was actually cooler than I thought. I thought most of male dancers were disconnected weirdos, kinda like rejects and strange. I think back in my day they were. Now, brothers who are dancing are real men. I thought they were mostly suspect, but these are masculine men dancing for these clubs and you have to be. Those inner city clubs don’t want no soft guys. That’s what surprised me, I thought it was soft city before. I thought men dancing was soft by itself. But no, these cats are athletic. They were doing feats of strength out there. They’re standing on one hand, flipping, suspending themselves from ceilings. They’re doing stuff that like Cirque Du Soleil type things. I couldn’t help but be impressed. There was stuff like ‘Man, I can’t do that.’
HB: If you were a stripper back in the day, what would your name have been?
MJW: I used to joke around and tell people I was a stripper and my name was a cowboy stripper named Chocolate Giddyup.
HB: You recently penned a letter to your exes, did you think it would get the response it did?
MJW: Not at all. I wrote that and hooked up with a buddy for breakfast. When I came back it exploded and I had to reread it myself because I couldn’t figure out what was so profound.
HB: Can you speak to one of the standout lines in the piece, that you thought all women were crazy?
MJW: I thought women were being unreasonable with their need for affection and the confirmations. I learned that I was wrong about that because that’s something that comes so second nature to me now. I never thought I’d be in a place like that. That’s really what I was apologizing about.
HB: What moment in your relationship prompted your ‘Oh I get it?’ moment?
MJW: We just got along amazingly. To this day, we’ve never had an argument, we’re so right for each other but we lost each other helping other people with their issues.
HB: So, y’all have never gotten into an argument?
MJW: We’re too much alike. It’s not like we try hard not to. The moment everything turned around…I’ve never told anyone this: I was doing a movie in North Carolina and I hadn’t slept in a while. I was getting over a sickness and I took a Tylenol PM. I had never taken a tablet before and my system is really weak. I thought I was going to die. I had a reaction to the medicine. I became really paranoid. Upon thinking I was going to die, I realized one of the calls I had to make was to her to profess the fact that I felt like I’ve always been in love with her, which was news to her. I didn’t know what her situation was, but since I might be dead real soon… Paramedics came and was like ‘Dude, it’s just medicine. You’re kinda drunk’ But, I’ve never been drunk before so I had a reaction to the medicine much like someone who is inebriated. But I freaked out and thought I was going to die. After I lived, there was that, that I put on the table. Once she got back in town, we faced it.
Catch Skin Trade in theaters May 8 and Chocolate City in your fantasies (ha ha) on May 22!