Gillian White: The New Queen of Action Film
Gillian White might not be a household name at the moment, but she has put in work as an actress for more than two decades. Along the way, she married one of the most popular action stars in the business, Michael Jai White. Gillian had a fight scene with the aforementioned action star in the recently released movie ’Welcome To Sudden Death’. Producers were so impressed, they decided to feature her predominantly in the marketing of the movie, featuring her on the main poster kicking the hero of the movie‘s butt, and she’s not even the main villain. Gillian might have had our curiosity, but she now definitely has our attention. We had the honor to have a word with the acting veteran. Here’s what she had to say:
Black Action Stars: I see you went to Howard University. Was becoming an actress always a goal for you?
Gillian White: Actually, no. In High school, I got a scholarship from the Los Angeles police department administration of justice. I wanted to be an FBI agent. That was my original goal of leaving high school. That or a marine biologist. So, Yeah. I was kind of a nerd.
BAS: So where did the acting come in?
GW: I was always in theater and drama class. But that was always a hobby and wasn't something I planned on pursuing professionally. In college, I minored in theater and got a bit of the bug. So by the time I got back home to LA, I knew I wanted to be involved in acting.
BAS: When did you get your big break?
GW: After breaking into the industry, appearing in a few music videos. I received my SAG card with 'How to Be a Playa'. I played Shante, the Jamaican girl.
BAS: You mentioned being in a few music videos. Is it safe to say you didn't want to be a video vixen?
GW: No offense to those who chose to do that, but I wanted to be a legitimate actress. For the music videos that I chose to be in, I made sure I was always the lead and that there was an actual storyline. Hype Williams personally offered me the role in the “Hey Lover”, video by LL Cool J. Because he knew I was a professional. I was very strategic about how I wanted to be seen in the business.
BAS: I don't know if you know this, but you have developed quite a fanbase from stand-up comedians. Mainly because you did something A lot of them have wanted to do for a very long time.
GW: Wow! And what’s that?
BAS: You kicked Gary Owen in the head.
BAS: With that, let's segue into Welcome to Sudden Death.
GW: Well firstly, Gary was great to work with. We had so much fun.
BAS: We interviewed the director of that movie, and he told us a very interesting fact (that didn't make the article) involving your casting.
GW: You're talking about the fact that I was cast in the movie before my husband was? Yeah. Unlike my husband, I am not a big celebrity. So when people see him then they see me, it's always assumed he just gave me the part. But I have been acting for over 20 years with a very respectable filmography. Dallas Jackson and I both went to Howard, and we've known each other for a while. So he told me about the role, and I had to audition for it. Nobody gave it to me.
BAS: You were awesome in the movie. I'm glad you got the part. And speaking of getting the part, let's talk a bit about your first lead role in the upcoming movie ‘Take Back’.
GW: This was one of the first productions in California to film under the new COVID restrictions. So on top of the nervousness of my first starring role, there was a whole new set of rules that we have to follow by. But we pushed through and got it done. I'm proud of the movie, as is the studio, producers, and the director.
BAS: In the trailer for Take Back, like in Welcome to Sudden Death, we see you
performing some nice looking martial arts. Assuming your teacher is your husband, did you have any martial arts experience before you met him?
GW: Yes, my husband is my instructor. And I did not have any martial arts experience before I met him. But I was always an athlete. I had several basketball scholarships that I turned down because I wanted to go to an HBCU. I learn very quickly because of my natural athleticism. My husband has been teaching me for seven years, and he always tells me how I adapt to what he's teaching better than most black belts.
BAS: The subject matter of ‘Take Back’ is a very heavy one. But it is one that needs more awareness nonetheless. Especially in the black community. A lot of children go missing and unfortunately are never found again.
GW: It does need to be discussed more. We have three daughters and we always try to instill into them a certain degree of awareness. A lot of these kids are on their phones not paying attention to their surroundings, and it only takes three seconds for someone to drive up and snatch you. Those issues are tackled in the movie.
BAS: Well we definitely cannot wait until it comes out. Anything else that we can look forward to?
GW: I have another movie coming out around the same time as 'Take Back' called ‘Love You Anyway’. It's a drama about mental illness. And my husband and I are halfway done with the book we're doing.
BAS: We appreciate you taking the time to talk to us and I will let you take us out with one last question: When it's all said and done, what would you like your legacy to be?
GW: I would like people to remember me as a good human being. Just an all-around decent person who never looked down on anyone and always offered a helping hand. And in terms of my career, to be remembered as an all-around versatile actress. Someone who did drama, action, or comedy.
Gillian White is not only a prime example of good things come to those who wait. But also GREAT things come to those who deserve it. ‘Take Back’, Gillian’s first starring role has a projected release date of early 2021. Be sure to check back for our review.