Michael Jai White Talks 'For Better or Worse' and Directorial Hopes
1 year ago
The star of Tyler Perry's newest television show, opens up about his polarizing role as Marcus
It’s hard for Michael Jai White to pay attention to the Global Positioning System in his car. Although he’s headed to encourage students at a school in Bridgeport, Connecticut, he’s also the star of Tyler Perry’s For Better or Worse, which just premiered on TBS raking in over 3 million viewers, and has scheduled telephone interviews with press throughout the day.
The 44-year-old actor, known for roles in Tyler Perry’s Why Did I Get Married? franchise and Spawn, where he was the first African American to play a major superhero, grew up in the Northeast where he became hooked to martial arts at 8-years-old. The Hollywood stunt man now holds seven black belts along with a flourishing acting career. He has five projects coming out next year; a notable faet considering complaints from Hollywood’s small pool of black actors.
White, like his boss Tyler Perry, has the combination of talents needed to stay ahead of the game in Tinsel Town. “He’s such a hybrid of performer and business man and director and entrepreneur,” White says of Perry. Still, those words could easily reflect himself.
Loop 21 caught up with White while driving through his hometown to talk his role as Marcus in TBS’ For Better or Worse, his onscreen and off screen romance with co-star Tasha Smith and his directorial hopes for the future.
Loop 21: You have a an outrageous filming schedule on For Better or Worse, shooting one episode per day. How did you fall into character without much rehearsal?
White: We do a rehearsal and then we do a rehearse-shoot type of thing. I’m careful to say that anything is really hard. It’s all a matter of perspective. If you look at the normal half-hour episode, you [film] one per week. You have a lot of rehearsal time. I consider that super easy, you know? It’s a little bit more demanding than the others, but it’s actually kind of fun. It keeps things really fresh.
Loop 21: How is Marcus different in For Better or Worse than “Why Did I Get Married?”
White: The character Marcus is more more evolved. He’s become a successful businessman. Now he’s learned a lot as far as what it is to really be an alpha male. Marcus, like a lot of black men these days from the inner city who are revered for sports and his prowess with women, he’s shedding that whole role and learning it’s really about being a husband and father. He’s lied and cheated in the past, but he’s learning. He continues to learn how to navigate through a relationship. Marcus speaks to a lot of black men out there who want to do right, but unfortunately have inherited a lot of dysfunctional behavior.
Loop 21: Do you see any parallels between your marriage on the show and your marriage in real life?