Michael Jai White talks Somebody’s Child
Michael Jai White talks Somebody’s Child
By Wilson Morales
August 24, 2012
Airing on GMC TV on August 25th is the uplifting family drama ‘Somebody’s Child,’ which stars Michael Jai White, Lynn Whitfield, and Byron Minns.
A divine twist of fate causes Constance Rivers (Lynn Whitfield) and her son Douglas (Michael Jai White) to open their hearts to an ex-convict, Benjamin Sparks (Byron Minns). While on the brink of losing her battle with kidney failure, Constance’s near death confession instantly collides her past with her present, revealing Douglas and Benjamin are fraternal twin brothers who were separated at birth 37 years ago. Shocked, confused and on the verge of losing their mother, the two men must work to develop a bond of brotherhood that will last a lifetime and give their mother peace.
For White, having appeared in several action films (Universal Soldier, Spawn, Undisputed II) and comedy-dramas (Why Did I Get Married?, Why Did I Get Married Too?), it’s rare to see him in a straight dramatic film.
The Brooklyn native currently stars as the character on the TBS comedy-drama television series Tyler Perry’s For Better or Worse and voices the character Black Dynamite in the Black Dynamite animated series that airs on Adult Swim.
Blackfilm.com recently spoke with White as he talked about his role in ‘Somebody’s Child,’ with Minns and Whitfield, and his other TV projects.
What was the attraction to doing this?
Michael Jai White: It’s a dramatic piece. I always want to do diverse things. This is a small film but I like what it had to say. I love the fact that it really had nothing to do with this family being black. It’s just about being a family.
What character do you play?
MJW: I play Douglas Rivers and Lynn Whitfield plays my mom. She’s battling a kidney disease and also runs a restaurant for my character’s wife. My character takes over the restaurant while his mother continues her battle.
How was working with Lynn Whitfield?
MJW: This is my first time working with her and sometimes I get caught up watching her process I forget I’m in the scene with her. She’s amazing and I found out that she’s really funny as well.
Byron Minns is a co-star in the film and the two of you have worked together before on ‘Black Dynamite’ and currently the animated series of that film. How was the chemistry between the both of you on this film, especially since he’s playing your brother?
MJW: The chemistry is amazing. He’s like a brother to me. He is my brother. Not only that, even if we didn’t have any interaction together in the script, and having read the script and seeing his character, he is the #1 person I would have chosen for that role. Even if I had nothing to do with that movie, I feel like that role was written for him. He’s so much like the Benjamin role and he’s amazing in it. I think he’s an incredible actor.
How’s the Black Dynamite animated series going?
MJW: That’s going very well. The cable channel Adult Swim is very happy. They are an extended family to us now. We’re continuing to have a lot of fun with it.
Do you think this film will open more doors for you in terms of dramatic projects?
MJW: I don’t know. I’ve been doing a diverse amount of work ever since I started. Still, people are going to believe what they believe. I’m sure people still think of me as an action guy and some won’t. I didn’t do this just for my career. I really believe in the script. As an artist, I don’t always get to exercise some of the talent that I have very often. Whether something becomes of this film, that remains to be seen, but I never go into things expecting the project will change anything.
How this season of ‘For Better or Worse’ compare to last year?
MJW: Well, this year is a lot better. We did 35 episodes this year, which is way more than what we had last year. The show is much funnier and we’ve going the route of a more traditional comedy. I never was part of a half hour sitcom world and it’s really fascinating. One thing I enjoy about life is constantly growing and learning and doing new things.
With so many projects you’re working on, how do you find time to relax?
MJW: It’s very easy. I look at everything as easy. I used to have hard jobs. I used to be a schoolteacher. I used to work construction. Those are hard jobs. When I really add everything up as far as my free time, I have far more free time than the average person. I have literally months and weeks where I’m accessible to family at least for four hours a day. A lot of people have a few hours to spend time with their children if they are working 9 to 5 and have to coordinate with their children’s schedule. When you add it all up, I have plenty of time. Everybody gets to enjoy traveling when I happen to be working, so I think the benefits far outweigh the negativity.
With so many names being brought about if there’s another sequel to ‘The Expendables,’ would you want to be a part of that?
MJW: I have no idea. It all depends on how the script is written. With so much action, it would be fun for me, but of course, it would have to be a role that works for me. Personally, I’ve seen people make comments about me being in the next film, but I’m not quite sure how I would even fit in. I’m actually still doing films and still trying to be the next Sylvester Stallone. I’m still in that process.
What’s a good reason to watch ‘Somebody’s Child?’
MJW: I think you’ll have a god experience watching this. It touches on so many levels of life. I play a character who is a single dad, which in truth I was a single dad for quite some time until I got married. I was bringing up my son on my own. I found this project very interesting. I really find it interesting, in this day of age, to see that exploited in our community a bit more where there are fathers out there for their children. I get to play a character who’s a character out of my own heart. I think this image would be interesting to a lot of people.
Somebody’s Child makes its world television premiere on Saturday, August 25 at 7:00, 9:00 and 11:00 p.m. and Sunday, August 26 at 7:00, 9:00 and 11:00 p.m., with an encore on Monday, September 10 at 9:00 p.m. All times are EST.