Michael Jai White is an American actor and martial artist who has appeared in numerous films and television series. He is the first African American to portray a major comic book superhero in a major motion picture, having starred as Al Simmons, the protagonist in the 1997 film Spawn. White portrayed Jax Briggs in Mortal Kombat: Legacy. White also portrayed boxer Mike Tyson in the 1995 HBO television movie Tyson.
November 10, 1967
New York, USA
Most people say I look mean, and because I play so many tough roles and because of my size and my martial arts background, they think I am, but I'm really not.
Michael Jai White started doing martial arts at the young age of 8
Michael Jai White was born in Brooklyn, NY and moved to Bridgeport, CT as a pre-teen. By age 14, Michael chose to express himself through a passion for martial arts. Michael began earning money by teaching Karate at the local YMCA and fighting in tournaments. Michael graduated from Central High School, then went on to attend college. Michael became a junior high school teacher and spent three years teaching emotionally disturbed children in grades five through seven. This is what Michael notes as one of his proudest achievements. It was around this time that Michael began giving into another one of his passions which were the desire to act.
Michael began auditioning for roles in nearby Manhattan. He eventually landed commercials, theatre roles, and small roles in soap operas. Faced with the difficult decision to leave teaching, he chose to relocate in 1992 to Los Angeles to pursue acting full time. Michael's first major starring role and breakout performance were starring as heavyweight boxer Mike Tyson in the 1995 HBO film Tyson, After that successful role, He played Jax Briggs in the movie Mortal Kombat: Legacy, which was based off the popular game. He continued on this acting journey playing in the 1997 movie Spawn, making him the first African American to portray a major comic book superhero in a major motion picture. This afforded him a nomination for the Blockbuster Entertainment Award for Best Male Newcomer. Michael went on to star opposite Jean-Claude Van Damme in Universal Soldier: The Return and in 2001, he starred opposite Steven Seagal in Exit Wounds.
Michael has enjoyed middle-of-the-road success while delivering stellar performances on and off the screen. He has been doing voiceover work, including Static Shock and the Justice League. Furthermore, Michael has appeared in the box office hits Why Did I Get Married, which debuted at number one at the box office on October 12, 2007. Its sequel, Why Did I Get Married Too, opened at number two at the box office June 6, 2010.
Michael has adorned the screen of countless action movies as well. Having maintained a strong connection to his martial arts roots and enabling his martial arts fans to see his mastery come alive. Recently, Michael signed on to be John “Falcon” Chapman in an installment of the Falcon movies with the first release being the highly anticipated Falcon Rising that hit theaters in 2014.
Michael Jai White’s changeability as an actor has reaped his success in TV and film alike. Being a black belt with seven different styles of karate, Michael has been able to influence his deep connection to martial arts and emerge as a multi-faceted talent that possesses comedic chops while also being one of the most recognizable action movie actors around.