Politics of Love: Brian White
Politics Of Love
An Interview with Brian White
By Wilson Morales
September 14, 2011
Currently in theaters now is the romantic comedy ‘Politics of Love,’ which centers on a black Republican, portrayed by Brian White, who falls in love with an Indian Democrat, played by Bollywood star Mallika Sherawat, during the 2008 presidential election.
Also starring in the film are Loretta Devine, Ruby Dee, Gerry Bednob, Tracey Walter, Gabrielle Dennis, and Ian Reed Kesler.
For White, who was recently seen in TNT’s ‘Men of a Certain Age,’ and starred in another romantic comedy, ‘The Heart Specialist‘ with Wood Harris and Zoe Saldana,’ ‘Politics’ gave him an opportunity to not only work with new talent, but also reinforce his desire to help others learn about the political system and voting, especially with President Obama’s reelection campaign getting ready to start.
‘Politics of Love‘ is out now in theaters. What was the attraction to that?
Brian White: I’ll ask you, in your life have you ever seen a black republican that wasn’t made fun of, portrayed in any kind of media or even any kind of news?
No, I haven’t.
BW: I mean, that’s why. As an actor I look to try and do things that haven’t been done before, challenge myself, try new roles, undertake new opportunities, and when I read this script I had to stop and think. I had never seen anything like Kyle portrayed onscreen, and then in a conversation with my family my mom pointed out that Martin Luther King was a republican and that the parties have become synonymous with ethnicities and that shouldn’t necessarily be the case. People should vote for the best person and a party doesn’t necessarily dictate that a person is good or bad. So, that concept alone was what brought me to the table, and then I learned all about Bollywood and Mallika Sherawat and Govind Menon, the producer, and became very interested in collaborating with politics. It’s such a big movie market that I knew nothing about. Once I became educated about Bollywood I definitely gained a huge amount of respect for how they made films and their stars. Those are the two reasons that I wanted to be a part of ‘Politics of Love.’
How involved were you in politics before doing this movie? Are you someone that watches a lot of news and stays up on what’s happening in today’s world?
BW: I’m fairly political. I’m an independent. I was a surrogate for Obama in 2008. So, I worked closely with the campaign and did a lot of campaigning on behalf of Barack Obama. I did a lot of traveling and speaking to youth and teens, educating them about our political system, about the parties and the candidates and trying to get them involved and motivated. So, I’m definitely politically active. That was more of an impetus for me to get involved with this movie because in 2012 I definitely want to make sure that folks, and especially young folks, are engaged and aware of the candidates and what they stand for so that they can make educated and informed decisions.
What was it like working with Mallika on this film?
BW: Oh, fantastic. She is huge. The Bollywood stars, I didn’t know going in and I don’t think that most American folks know how big Bollywood is. There’s a small handful of big, huge stars and Mallika is one of their biggest. She has a billion fans and that’s not an exaggeration, but she’s very humble and gracious. She’s a blue collar work ethic meaning that she shows up everyday with a good attitude, ready to work hard to put her best foot forward. I thought that it was amazing how someone so popular as her, celebrated in her own country can bring such a working and down to earth attitude to an independent film. It was an absolute joy to work with her and she’s very professional and a very talented actress.
When you found out you were going to be working with her did you go to the store and pick out one of her films?
BW: I actually got see her film with Jackie Chan. The title escapes me, but she had shot that one before mine. The day that I met her we talked a lot about each other’s careers. So, she gave me some films and I gave her a couple of films – ‘I Can Do Bad’ and ‘Stomp The Yard’ – and we did some homework on each other before we started working. So, yes, we did exchange some films.
Was there a particular scene that was your favorite you did with her?
BW: I mean, it was interesting, the movie was rough. I got injured on the film a couple of times. So, I enjoyed the whole process because she’s great to work with and she’s extremely talented, but it was dangerous. We were filming a jogging scene in the park and she slipped and I caught her. So, chivalry is not dead, but in catching her I hurt myself. I hurt my knee pretty bad actually. So, that was a memorable event. I’m all better now, but that’s memorable from the film, and then also we were filming a kitchen scene and a plate broke and sliced my finger nearly off. It required about ten stitches, but we kept filming. Put a band-aid on it and then went to the hospital later. We were really passionate about the film and we didn’t let anything stop us.
You don’t do a lot of romantic comedies. So, this is something new. Is this you trying to do different things or is it something that you think you’d like to do more of?
BW: Well, I think there is no such thing as a genre other than what you make it. I think that romantic comedy has a stigma. It’s become almost bad. When I think of romantic comedies I think of ‘Sleepless in Seattle.’ I think of ‘You’ve Got Mail.’ I think of Tom Hanks movies. I think of Oscar caliber actors with great scripts that are shot in the vein and in the tone of the series ‘Men of a Certain Age’ which I work on, on TNT. The family film was a romantic comedy film that I was involved with. ‘Politics of Love’ is another romantic comedy. It’s a drama and a romance, but it’s comedic because the subject matter is humorous rather than what romantic comedies have come to be thought of and that’s more slapstick comedy and two people supposedly falling in love. So, there’s a distinction and I wanted to be a part of ‘Politics of Love’ because it’s a part of that first category, that elevated, aspirational Tom Hanks style movie that I grew up on. That’s what we were trying to go for here.
Now that Barack Obama has been President for three years, do you think the film is still relevant, considering that at this time he’s not doing so well in the polls?
BW: I think it’s totally relevant because what’s happened right now is that we’re seeing the politics of race play out. Everybody is being called to action based on…the party lines are being drawn along ethnic lines and it’s interesting. The movie is trying to set the table for discussion about this election that we’re about to have in 2012. We all got excited in 2008 and asked this man to do certain things, and by and large he’s done them and now the rest of the job is for us. We have to vote and empower our congress people or point a finger at our congress people and make them vote the way that they’re supposed to vote. He can’t do that, and now it’s our turn again. That’s kind of what our movie is talking about and pointing out once again. The topics have switched. The playing field is level. Any boy and girl in the United States can become anything that they want to be as long as they get activated, engaged and involved. So, that’s what our movie is really about. That’s the kind of discussion that we want to inspire moving forward.
You recently finished shooting ‘Good Deeds.’ What was it like working with Tyler Perry again?
BW: Fantastic. Each and every time is a growing experience and a learning experience, a motivational experience, inspirational. He’s the hardest working man in showbiz. There’s nobody that works harder than him and he pushed himself to elevate his game each time out. So, it was a blessing, and I got to work with Missus Cosby. Phylicia Rashad played my mom. I had to call my mom and I was about to have a freak out moment on set the first day. I grew up on ‘The Cosby Show.’ There’s never been a better sitcom made in the history of television than ‘The Cosby Show’ that people learned from and grew with and all of that. To work with that kind of talent, like, Gabby Union and Thandie Newton and Tyler. It was just a blessing.
What’s your role in the movie?
BW: I play Tyler’s brother. We are an upscale real-estate mogul family. We’re having some difficulties internally and the company is going through a redistribution meaning our father is now gone and my brother and I are wrestling for a bit of control with mom and trying to figure out who’s going to take the helm, in which direction we’re going to go. At the same time Tyler’s character is getting ready to get married to Gabrielle Union’s character. By circumstance we all meet Thandie Newton’s character who’s an employee of the company. A bunch of twists and turns ensue. It’s a romantic dramedy. It’s funny because life is funny and pain is funny and struggle is funny. It’s dramatic and well acted and Thandie and Gabby and Tyler kill it. Check it out. February 24th.
Are we ever going to see ‘Cabin in the Woods’?
BW: April 13th. Friday the 13th it’ll be everywhere, I promise. It’s fantastic. You’ve got Chris Hemsworth who’s Thor. You’ve got Jesse Williams from ‘Grey’s Anatomy’. Myself. You’ve got Richard Jenkins, multi-talented Bradley Whitford, an Emmy and Golden Globe nominee. It’s just a powerhouse cast and then the creative, crazy and wonderful genius mind of Joss Whedon and Drew Goddard. They put a lot of TLC into it. It’s been a lot of work and a lot of money from these guys to make sure that it gets out. So, they wouldn’t do that if they didn’t think it was really good. I’m excited about it.
You had a good run with doing ‘What My Husband Doesn’t Know.’ Do you have any thoughts of getting back on the stage?
BW: I’d love to. I had a fantastic experience with David E. Talbert. He’s brilliant. We’re actually working right now on some film collaborations. So, we’ll have news when that’s all ready, and yeah, man, if the stage ever calls me again and it was the right production and the right cast and the right material I’d do it again. I had a wonderful time getting to see people face to face. And the experience of theater day in and day out was wonderful and challenging and I grew a lot from it.
Why should people go out and see ‘Politics of Love’?
BW: ‘Politics of Love.’ It’ll make you laugh. It’ll make you cry and hopefully it’ll make you think and reevaluate your stance on things. I think most of your readers will hear the conflict of a black republican and laugh and say that it’s not possible. It is possible. Martin Luther King was a republican. What’s changed with the definition of a republican today, what’s the party really about – educate yourself. It’s food for thought. We’re about to vote again, people. If you don’t know what the parties are really about you don’t even really know what they’re fighting for. You’re just following people because you identify with them and that’s not what politics is about. Politics is about setting up your family, your future, your future and empowering yourself. The first step is about educating yourself fully. So, check out ‘Politics of Love.’ Grab some popcorn, have a good time and get caught up in the real true romance story and get inspired and think about some new ideas.