April 3, 2012

Lifestyles: Actor-Model-Dancer Brian White

by Matt Forman | LaxMagazine.com

Brian White, the son of the Boston Celtics' seven-time NBA All-Star and 1976 NBA Finals MVP JoJo White, is living the dream — for the second time. A two-sport star at Dartmouth, White signed professional lacrosse and football contracts with the NLL's Boston Blazers and the NFL's New England Patriots. A severe hamstring injury cut his athletic career short. After a brief foray into stock brokerage, he was introduced to modeling and co-founded a dance company. Since then, White has starred in movies like "Stomp the Yard," "Fighting" and "Mr. 3000," and has been featured in TV shows "The Shield," "Men of a Certain Age" and "Spyder Games."

How did you first get into lacrosse?
My inspiration on Twitter (@actorbrianwhite) is a good friend from my high school, Newton South (Mass.), who's also in the entertainment industry, Rib Hillis. We had step-up day — when middle schoolers visit the high school — and one of the older guys that was a football player came up to me in the hallway, grabbed the middle of my shirt, ripped out the shirt's patch and started to eat it, and then walked away. We always thought this guy was cool. So I was walking out to baseball practice one day, and I saw Rib light [him] up in a lacrosse game. I was like, "I want to play that sport."

What kind of player were you?
At 6-foot and 180 pounds then and 6-foot-2 and 205 pounds now, I always had speed, quickness, agility, power and strength. I had the football tools, playing against guys that are 5-foot-10, more of a soccer build. The results were really good, and I ended up with a scholarship to a great school. That's something I'm really passionate about now: trying to get more kids, especially minority kids, aware of the game.

How are you going about that?
I work with former Johns Hopkins star Kyle Harrison a lot. We're trying to develop programs, clinics and exhibition games. My ideal would be to print molds of Kyle's stick and other players' sticks and give them away. You bring 20 professional lacrosse players to 10 different cities and play exhibition games. You give away tickets to the schools to get the kids out there. Basically it's a mill. All the camps are there, and they give away scholarships.

Best you ever played against?
The Gait brothers. I played against them in box. I was in football shape, about 230 pounds. So I was bigger and faster than them. But what shocked the heck out of me were their stick skills. You do what you can, but they're still going to get the shot off someway, somehow. Incredible.

What was your injury? Ever wonder what if?
I tore my hamstring in half. As a football player, you can't sit out so long, so I immediately tried to go back. I got signed to the World League and then tore it again. With hamstrings, it takes three months of not doing anything, then trying to rehab. But I didn't have that kind of time. It was a self-fulfilling prophecy, especially trying to play two sports... The irony was, I was back at my mom's house sitting on her couch for maybe a week. I was hanging my head and sulking. She was like, "This is what your college degree was for? Get your lazy, moping butt up, stop feeling sorry for yourself and go use your education. You went around this country and world for two years as a professional athlete in two sports, doing everything you loved. You lived the dream. Now it's time to grow up." I've always looked at it that way. My athletic career, I'm proud of it. I did everything I could.

What are the highlights of your acting career?
I got to do a movie called "DOA: Dead or Alive" in China. I got to go over there for four months and see almost every part of China. It made me appreciate the luxury of what a career in entertainment provides. This past year I got to do a play for the first time called "What My Husband Doesn't Know" in 30 cities. We traveled by buses, planes and cars all around the United States for about four months. Movies like "Fighting." Channing Tatum and I were MMA fighters, so we trained for six months to be able to do everything live. I love challenges like that. "Mr. 3000" was another one, with the late great Bernie Mac, because I did all my own hitting. We were at the Milwaukee Brewers' stadium, Miller Park, and I had to hit home runs out of the park live on camera with time limits. Two takes. Bernie Mac is the most humble guy I ever met, and the funniest guy I ever met. He was so successful because he was so humble, and I've aspired to be like that from the minute I met him. "The Family Stone" cast had lunch and dinner together every day for the entire shoot. That never happens. We had a huge cast, like Diane Keaton, Sarah Jessica Parker, Rachel McAdams, Luke Wilson, Craig Nelson, and everybody together had lunch and dinner at one table, every day for four months. It turned into a family.

What's next for you?
I've had a production company for a while with Sylvain White. He's the director of "The Loser" and "Stomp the Yard." We are producing a film together that we'll shoot in Europe. I helped write it. We want to be like George Clooney and Steven Soderbergh. They're kind of like our group blueprint. I aspire to be like Clooney, an actor who produces films that you can't find elsewhere, because he has elevated ideas and talent, and the backing of a great director to make them happen. That's where I see my career going.

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