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.