When you hear of a “triple threat” in entertainment, it often refers to someone who can sing, act and dance, at the very least. In the case of Brian White, acting, dancing and modeling are as much a part of him as playing sports, mentoring kids and working as a stock broker. He’s really more of a sextuple threat!
You could easily say that sports talent is in White’s blood, as his father JoJo White played for the Boston Celtics, and Brian succeeded in both the NFL as a New England Patriot and the NLL playing Lacrosse for the Boston Blazers. When an injury took him out of the sports scene, he co-founded the Phunk Phenomenon Urban Dance Theater Company in Massachusetts, and focused more energy on his acting career.
Of course, most of the world knows Brian White from his roles in movies like Stomp the Yard, Fighting and Tyler Perry’s I Can Do Bad All By Myself. White has also appeared in over a dozen television series including Brandy’s classic sitcom Moesha, and is currently a regular on TNT’s Men of a Certain Age.
If all of this wasn’t enough for one man to take on, White married his longtime love Paula Da Silva in August 2010, has a book coming out along with two more movies, and is active in philanthropic efforts. White is also currently touring the country with David E. Talbert’s play What My Husband Doesn’t Know, which co-stars Michelle Williams (Destiny’s Child), Ann Nesby (Sounds of Blackness), Clifton Davis (Amen) and KeKe Wyatt.
Is he busy? Absolutely! But Brian White did have enough time in his opening weekend for the What My Husband Doesn’t Know tour to give UrbLife.com some tips on how he keeps a happy home, balancing love and work all the way!
Read on as Brian dishes some important marriage advice, and tells us how he can play a cheating man, develop a book and keep his Hollywood thing going with the likes of Tom Cruise and Loretta Devine simultaneously!
Can you please tell us your tips for keeping your marriage happy?
I think the number one thing that fellas do is worry about how the words that come out of their mouths will be received. I think that that is where dishonesty starts. You start trying to cater to somebody to get some kind of reaction that you want, rather than just being honest about how you feel and what you think.
It doesn’t matter if it’s good, bad, or indifferent, just be honest. As long as you have that foundation of truth, you can deal with anything.
You have to be talking to even have something to be honest about. A lot of couples I see are not really communicating. They hold on to stuff, keep stuff separate; they deal with their own issues. Sure you have to have your own life, but you have to be able to communicate with your partner.
3. Maintain individuality
We’re not a couple first. I’m Brian, she’s Paula, we’re individuals and we have our own identity. We have a large area where our lives intersect. I think that a lot of couples lose their individual identity and things as individuals that they loved to do before they were a couple. Because of lack communications, happiness goes out the window.
4. Keep dating habits alive!
I think a lot of couples, once they get married, stop doing the things that they enjoyed doing while they were dating… date nights, activities. My wife and I like to go golfing or to the driving range. That’s something that a lot of guys would kill to do with their wives. That was something we did when we were dating. I loved that about her then, and I love that about her now. There’s a million and five others, but I think the concept is pretty much the same.
5. Share quality time
We cook together – we started doing it when we were dating. It’s a part of our fitness routine. It keeps us at home and in the kitchen together. Sharing, quality time that also enriches our lives in other ways. We have our Operation Fitness, and we hit the gym five times a week together. I only go because of her, because it’s a way that we can spend time together and stay healthy. When you’re healthy and you have more energy, everything else is better as well.
6. Stay supportive
Don’t own the other person. I stay supportive of new things in her life and she stays supportive of new things in my life. I see a lot of couples, once they get married; they feel like their partner is ‘theirs’. When new stuff happens they’re like, “Whoa you didn’t run that by me first!” – but you didn’t have the same concept at work when you were just dating.
It’s a difficult concept to grasp, but it’s something that everyone faces once they commit to someone. It goes back to that trust and security, when you can let somebody have the freedom and experiences of new things in life and get excited about stuff that’s not you.
7. Pre-marriage communication
The communication before you get married [is important]. You have to make sure you guys want the same thing. A lot of people are just so desperately in love that they want to get married, but it’s not to the right person. You have to make sure that your lives are going to line up right.
Do you want the same amount of kids? Do you want kids at all? You might want ten and they want none. Religion… how do you intend to raise your kids? I might say, “I want to raise my kids Jewish” and they say “Muslim.” Oh, we didn’t talk about that, we have a problem.
I know a lot of couples that year or two into the marriage and they’re just now finding out, “Oh, you don’t want any kids?” or, “Oh, you wanted to raise your kids Baptist? I wanted to raise mine Jewish. What are we going to do now?” Or social compatibility… I don’t like to do anything and you just got promoted to CEO, now I have to go to all of these fancy parties. I don’t like the fancy parties. Well we have a problem.
That’s the kind of stuff my wife and I learned during our five and half years of dating. We talked about it during our first five weeks of dating, which was the getting to know you part.
Those are great tips! But in your new play What My Husband Doesn’t Know, you play the role of the “other” man. Being newly married, what is your perspective on playing a role that’s opposite of your real life right now.
BW: For me, it’s all about the people first and foremost. I’m primarily here because of David [Talbert] and Michelle [Williams] and Ann [Nesby] and the rest of the cast. As far as the role, it’s the overall story that I look at first. It’s an uplifting story; it’s about family and marriage and about recognizing and protecting what you have. There has to be challenges before you protect anything and to tell a good story you need a big challenge.
When I look at the script, this is the role that’s going to drive that story. Kind of like I Can Do Bad All By Myself, it was really important to me that [my character]Randy was punished for what he did. I would like to push to the level that people know it’s not ok to do that kind of stuff, and if you do there’s consequences and repercussions.
It’s the same as this play; there are consequences and repercussions, so I think that the story is whole and complete. When people leave, they’ll be left with a positive message and none of the negative. They might think that it’s funny and sexy and interesting but the message were trying to deliver is made all the more entertaining because of this character. That’s what really attracted me.
When you take on a role that is opposite of what you live every day, how do you research a role like that? How do you relate to that character?
BW: This is simple. There’s good and bad in all of us. That’s my job, to explore the light and the dark. [My character] Paul is a man that sees Franklin [played by Clifton Davis]and what he has. I’m foreman at Franklin’s site and he is the man that I desire to be. He is affluent, wealthy, travelled, educated, has a beautiful wife, and a beautiful life.
He invites me into his home, and I start to listen to him and find out what’s wrong. As I’m in his house I realize, not by my own doing, but by listening, watching, and being invited into conversations, I realize that the main problem he has is his wife isn’t happy. Through developing a friendship with her, we become friends… and then more than friends.
Those are concepts that I think that most people can understand. What happens after that is the entertainment and the drama. At its core, it’s a very simple story and concept that I think most people can connect with. The research is in my life so far. I’ve been in love, I am in love, I do desire to elevate myself, I do have role models and mentors, so I just apply these concepts.
What’s coming up for you in the next year?
BW: I have a book coming out this year called Black Carpenter. It’s a youth empowerment brand. It’s basically providing the kids with tools to create success on any playing field they choose. Just as I have been successful in sports, on Wall Street, and in entertainment, I’m telling kids that if you can dream it and you’re willing to put in the hard work and develop the tools, you can have it. It’s a book, a documentary series, a speaking tour, and its retail products. The site is BlackCarpenter.org, and it’ll be out the second half of this year.
Men of a Certain Age, we have a split season. We just aired our first six; the last six will start in June. Really excited about them, the last six are even better than the first six.
I have two more films coming out this year. The first is called Politics of Love, myself, Mallika Sherawat who is a huge Bollywood starlet, Loretta Devine, Ruby Dee and Gerry Bednob. It’s a romantic comedy about an Obama campaign coordinator, played by Mallika, who falls in love with a McCain coordinator, a Republican played by me. To my knowledge, I haven’t seen a Black Republican who’s presented as likeable, cool, smart, and savvy in my life.
This film definitely tackles that issue. Mallika’s stepmother is Loretta, her grandmother Ruby who supports Obama and her father Gerry is supporting McCain. The debate in that house is very interesting, very relevant to this past election and what’s going on right now in this country.
Then Cabin in the Wood, executive produced by Tom Cruise, produced by Joss Whedon very well known for Angel and Buffy [the Vampire Slayer], and directed by Drew Goddard – people know him from Cloverfield. Myself, Richard Jenkins, Bradley Whitford, Chris Hemsworth who is the new Thor, and Jesse Williams who the ladies love from Grey’s Anatomy. It’s a fantastic horror thriller, horror comedy, action extravaganza. I’m really excited about that one as well.