Sunday, February 28, 2010

Brian White Gets Personal

Actor Brian White has been wooing women in movies and in magazines for a nearly ten years and shows no signs of slowing down. After a injury abruptly sidelined his NFL career, he has appeared in several TV shows and movie. PRIME caught up with him for a few minutes to talk about his family and his upcoming role in Tyler Perry’s new Movie I Can Do Bad All By My Self.

PRIME: Tell us about your child hood and how you were raised.
Brian: Simply stated, my mother (and my father when I was with him) made sure that my childhood was full of love and that I had positive role models and examples of doing things the right way. Between both parents, from athletics to academics, I was exposed to the best in life -- and even some of the worst so that I knew the difference. The distinction between the two was always explained to me and I was given reasons why I should aspire to the former. In retrospect, I think the cumulative result from this kind of childhood is a broadly empathetic worldview coupled with upwardly mobile aspirations.

PRIME: Were there a lot of kids in the house
Brian: I am the eldest and only boy of 6 children.

PRIME: Today a lot of couples never get married. Were your parents ever married?
Brian: Yes, my parents were college sweethearts, married for a few years and then divorced.

PRIME: Are you still close with both parents?
Brian: Yes. I am very close with both my parents simply because we all make it a priority to remain close, stay in contact and to be a real part of each other’s lives. I also enjoy the opportunity to work with them both as partners in my various philanthropic endeavors and events. My father often participates as a guest speaker and my mother works behind the scenes as an event coordinator and organizer.

PRIME: It seems that family is important you all. Do you have kids?
Brian: No children, yet.

PRIME: Often as kids we don’t understand/believe what our parents tell us. What are some things your parents told you then that you now believe are true or that you didn’t understand until later in life?
Brian: My mother taught me from a young age that my integrity is my only real currency in this world and that the more I invested in my education during my formative years, the more doors that would remain open to me over the course of my professional adult life. I trusted her wisdom back then and no truer words have ever been spoken!

PRIME: You mentioned that your parents both went to college. So did you all middle class? What type of work did your parents do?
Brian: I grew up as a “latch key kid” in a single parent, middle-income household raised by my mother in a suburb of Boston, MA. My mother, Estelle was a business executive. My father, Jo Jo was a professional basketball player. He played for the Boston Celtics.

PRIME: What were their expectations for you in school? I mean were they really strict about grades?
Brian: My mother consistently presented school, and education in general as the path that would insure I developed the tools and skills required to guarantee myself a bright future. B’s and above were “expected”. A’s were encouraged and usually rewarded.

PRIME: For a lot of families now and when we were growing up, college wasn’t an obvious option. So was college an expectation or more of a hope or wish?
Brian: Education and college are MANDATORY in my family. No exceptions. Period. My parents both went to college, my 4 middle sisters and I are all college graduates and my youngest sister just started college this year.

PRIME: How did growing up in a single parent home affect you as a teen?
Brian: I saw a variety. Probably 70% of my friend’s parents were “happily married” while I was growing up. The other 30% had single mothers, like me. Honestly, I never looked at it as a positive or a negative. It was never a disadvantage or an advantage. It was just the way things were. My mom and dad were divorced and my mother raised me. Frankly, mom did not tell us kids about any drama with our father because it had nothing to do with us. Instead, she made sure we made calls and sent holiday cards and birthday presents to him and allowed/encouraged and assisted us in seeing see him whenever possible, no matter her personal feelings about the matter. As a result, my father and I are close today and have a wonderful relationship. Additionally, I have benefited as a man and one-day father from seeing the positive examples of my fathers 2nd successful marriage, which is still going strong after 30 years.

PRIME: You went to college and now you’re in Hollywood. What do your parents think of your success?
Brian: As a child my parents taught me to try lots of different things in order that I discover what I truly love doing and then to spend the rest of my life developing the tools, skills and strategy to make my living doing some or all of those things. I’ve followed their advice and continue to do so and can only hope that they are pleased and proud of the results.

PRIME: What are some of the things you think you missed/regret from having one parent in the house?
Brian: I don’t believe in regrets. If I didn’t have the life experiences I’ve had, I don’t think I would be the man I am today. I think my sisters and I were blessed to have a mother who was able to set aside her personal feelings and emotions about her relationship with my father for the benefit of her children preserving our own relationship with him. I have always felt loved by both parents and had close relationships with both. And without having had to sometimes “work” hard at maintaining the relationship with my father due to distance, I’m not sure if I would appreciate the great relationship we have today as much as I do?

PRIME: Why do you think it’s important to have both parents?
Brian: I think having both parents is always the ideal goal because it fosters the development of children who grow up knowing “forever” is possible in relationships and have witnessed positive examples and have tangible role models of loving relationships between men and woman (or even same sex couples) and learn how to argue appropriately, settle conflicts and the true value of having real “family.”

PRIME: How do you feel about single parents adopting?
Brian: I feel that every child needs to be loved and deserves that gift. And for that reason alone I believe that it is better for a child to have 1 parent to love and care for them than none.

PRIME: What about gay parents?
Brian: Like I said before, I don’t believe that sexuality is relevant when the choice is between a child having the blessing of being loved versus growing up without that gift.

PRIME: How much of your acting can you pull from your own experiences?
Brian: The more I’m blessed to work, the more I try to seek out characters and roles that are disparate from myself. I think we, as human beings, are emotional mosaics of our accumulated life experiences. We may not always consciously draw from our past, but I believe that our past experiences are always influencing our current actions. For me that’s what’s most fascinating about stepping farther and farther away, artistically, from me as a person… to discover what (if any) aspects of these roles and personas I actually share similarities with? I derive the most personal satisfaction artistically from those moments when at work when I am not able to draw on life experience and must instead truly live in that moment and be along for the ride with the character under those totally foreign circumstances. Two examples would be my role as Patrick in “The Family Stone” and as Randy in the upcoming Tyler Perry’s, “I Can Do Bad All by Myself.”

PRIME: What’s next for you?

Brian: I am a regular on a new television series with, Ray Romano, Andre Braugher and Scott Bakula called, “Men of a Certain Age” for TNT debuted in December. On the philanthropic side, I am co-hosting a regional essay contest, with Keisha Whitaker for enrolled students ages 12-22 in our home state (Massachusetts) called Words Matter: www.WordsMatterNOW.org I am also hosting my first major international event, Helping Hands Celebrity Weekend in St. Thomas, Virgin Islands in July 21-25, 2010 in support of my foundation, WARM2Kids (www.warmfoundation.org).

Event info/details/to make charitable donations please visit:


No comments:

Post a Comment