The actor on his role in Tyler Perry's Good Deeds.
Brian White plays Tyler Perry's brother in the director's newest film, Good Deeds (out February 24). Its the kind of supporting role the Boston-bred actor enjoys most. "When I started acting, I made a conscious decision that I wanted to be a character read and not a leading man," he says. "I didn’t want to do the same thing again and again. I wanted to push and challenge myself."
The urge to constantly challenge himself is what that keeps White's focus on many projects at once. Besides acting, he's also a model, licensed stock broker, and author. Oh, and he's a newlywed. We chatted with White about Good Deeds, his many jobs, and his dreams of becoming a filmmaker.
ESSENCE.com: Tell us about your role in Good Deeds.
BRIAN WHITE: I play Walker Deeds. Tyler Perry plays my brother, Glen Deeds. The movie is a paradox; it’s an elevated story of a very affluent family of a real estate mogul who has had to overcome some trials after their father passes away. My character has responded to those challenges by self-destructing. As a young man in the film, I want to be just like dad, but I haven’t been able to get there. Tyler’s character wants to be a completely different person, but has somehow managed ended up being just like our father. The film is about finding what truly makes you happy in life. It is a cautionary message that shows that it’s not always true that in real life a person is as happy as they profess to be.
ESSENCE.com: Besides starring in Good Deeds, you’re also a licensed stock broker, model and co-founder of a professional dancing company. Is there anything you haven’t done yet?
WHITE: I’ve never starred in my own studio movie. That’s something I’m working towards. I’d also like to produce my own film. I founded a production company and we're looking to produce and shoot an international crime thriller in 2012-2013, called Hustle. I grew up on moves likes Pelican Brief, and there haven’t been many movies like that in the past years. I want to get out elevated multicultural genre films, and movies like Jumping the Broom, Takers, Precious, and Pariah; stuff that’s good and also entertains and expands spectrum, but always pushes the envelope. If they’re quality films, they’re going to appeal to all people, us included.
ESSENCE.com: What's the best role you’ve played?
BRIAN WHITE: I enjoy all the roles for different reasons. When I started acting, I made a conscious decision that I wanted to be a character read and not a leading man. I didn’t want to do the same thing again and again. I wanted to push and challenge myself. I find and embrace new and unique challenges in all mediums. For the play What My Husband Doesn’t Know, I was doing 7 or 8 shows a week; it was like actors boot camp. That experience grounded me and showed me why I love this so much.
ESSENCE.com: What many people may not know about you, is that you’ve also written a book called Black Carpenter, which focuses on tools for youth empowerment. What is one lesson you’d like readers to draw from the book?
WHITE: There’s no such thing as luck. If you only have one tool in your tool belt, every problem is going to look like a nail and you’re going to back yourself into a corner. But if you empower yourself with a lot of tools, you can work your way out of any situation to be successful, and not rely on other people. My mother was a secretary that elevated herself to having her own international company, my father elevated himself to an NBA player and perennial all-star. So I learned from my parents that it’s about hard work, about both of them getting their education, putting people first and leading a life of integrity.
ESSENCE.com: You recently got married. How is married life?
WHITE: It’s fantastic. To me, it’s what life is all about, family, and finding the person that makes you the best version of yourself that you can be. I married my best friend and my soul mate.