Michael Jai White Talks Skin Trade

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Michael Jai White Talks Skin Trade
Posted by Wilson Morales

May 1, 2015

Skin Trade Poster

Currently on On Demand & iTunes (April 23) and hitting theaters on May is Skin Trade, starring Dolph Lundgren (The Expendables), Tony Jaa (Furious 7), Ron Perlman (Sons of Anarchy) and Michael Jai White (Blood and Bone).

New Jersey detective, Nick Cassidy (Dolph Lundgren) heads to Bangkok where he teams up with Thai detective, Tony Vitayakui (Tony Jaa) to hunt down Viktor Dragovic (Ron Perlman) and destroy his human trafficking network. Nick had inadvertently killed Dragovic’s  son in a sting operation on the New Jersey docks, and Dragovic responded by attempting to kill Nick and his family. Nick miraculously survived the brutal attack, but his wife and daughter were killed. With nothing but vengeance to live for, Nick and Tony traverse their way through the Bangkok underworld in search of the elusive Dragovic. Meanwhile, FBI Agent Eddie Reed (Michael Jai White) is sent in to bring Nick home. But as the crossfire ensues, Nick has to determine who his true allies are.
Alex Cross premiere - Michael Jai White
For White, who plays an FBI agent and has been in the action genre for years, the role gave him a chance to film in Thailand and connect with other actors of his “fraternity” from the action world. While he’s on the big screen, White can be still seen on TV in “For Better or Worse,’ which has completed over 100 episodes so far.
Blackfilm.com spoke to White about working on Skin Trade.

What was the attraction to doing the film?

Michael Jai White: The film stars Dolph Lundgren, Tony Jaa, and Ron Perlman. Tony and I have been friends for a long time and we wanted to work together and this seemed like a lot of fun.

How would you describe your role?

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MJW: I’m a FBI agent investigating this case that Dolph is involved and traveling with him to solve it. It’s basically us chasing down the bad guys.

You’ve done your share of action films, so what was special about this one?

MJW: What was appealing to me was the screenplay. No matter whom I working with, it’s the story that has to grab me. If not, then what are we working with. I really don’t want to be known for movies that I wouldn’t watch myself.

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From what I read, you went to Thailand to shoot the film. How was that for you?

MJW: It was a lot of fun for me. It was the first time experiencing Thailand and it was just a great time. I always wanted to go and to go there and work and seeing it basically with the red carpet was a wonderful thing.

What’s the selling aspect for Skin Trade?

MJW: Well, to me, Skin Trade reminds me when action movies were really great. They were character driven. They were real. I’m a martial arts enthusiast. I like movies where you don’t have to suspend your disbelief. It’s so easy to see these characters and believe them in their roles. I feel this film goes back to the days when Charles Bronson and Steve McQueen were making movies, and Clint Eastwood, and these guys felt real. The movies that we get these days are formulaic and this film feels like a throwback to the 70s and 80s when people were cast as far as their believability and not because of their heat at that time.

Skin Trade Dolph Lundgren

Each of the guys you mentioned earlier had had their share action film from the past, so what was it like working with some of them?

MJW: It was great because we are all from the same fraternity. It’s like the fraternity of bad asses. I think we all feel the say as far as what we enjoy in the movies that influenced us. We enjoyed the reality of the situation. To work with other people who step you up because they are bad asses themselves. That just adds to the fun.

Skin Trade Dolph Lundgren and Michael Jai White

From films and TV, when do you find time to juggle both?

MJW: They just have to fit. Sometimes, you’re not available for everything. There are things that you would to do but it doesn’t work out. I have a very diverse career which makes me able to shift one type of film to the other. I don’t enjoy playing one type of character. I may be a bad ass in one project and a comic relief in the other. It helps me steer away from being stereotyped. Nobody tends to know which genre I’m more comfortable with.

When you shooting this film, was there any particular scene that stood out for you?

Skin Trade Michael Jai White and Tony Jaa

MJW: Not yet because I still haven’t seen the film.

Are you of those actors who wants to wait til the last minute to see the film?

MJW: I actually have been out of town so much that the times that they were screening it, I wasn’t around. I haven’t been able to see it. I think the first time I will see it will be on VOD when it hits. I haven’t seen a whole five minutes from the film.

What else are you working on?

MJW: I have a film called Echo Effect coming out with “Stone Cold” Steve Austin. It’s a straight up action film. Then I have Chocolate City, which is the urban version of Magic Mike. It’s a comedy drama and I play the owner of a strip club. That’s very different from the Echo Effect film. I just completed my fifth season on For Better or Worse.

Chocolate City - Michael Jai White and Ginuwine

You seemed like an easy choice to cast for Chocolate City. You’re always in shape.

MJW: I’m the guy that runs the place and I’m not one of the dancers but you once see the film, you can tell that my character probably at one time a dancer and I branched off into ownership.

With For Better or Worse, have you done over 100 episodes already?

MJW: We’ve done about 140 episodes already in the past 3 or 4 years. I have a wonderful career. I’m dabbling in all these different arenas. To play in a sitcom where I’m a TV husband and father, which is probably the most non-threatening role ever to things like Falcon Rising, where I’m taking down gangs on my own, I couldn’t ask for more. I love the fact that I can do these stretch and no one thinks anything crazy about it and I’m accepted either way.


  1. Very insightful post. Thanks!