Written by | Ray Cornelius
Versatile actor Michael Jai White will have his fingers crossed tonight as his comedy series, For Better or Worse debuts its 3rd season on a new home network, OWN. This is a very bold step for the show, and both the network as well as White are hoping that the same success the show achieved with TBS will be the same if not surpassed under O’s watchful eye.
For Better or Worse, is the last of the Tyler Perry’s projects that he has launched on the OWN network. So far, the marriage has been outstanding with the network achieving its highest numbers this year as a result of this summer’s night time drama, The Have and The Have Nots. The comedy, Love Thy Neighbor has also seen its share of success too.
Now the question is will “Marcus” and “Angela” receive the same love from OWNers?
I recently caught up with White, a professionally trained martial arts champion, who’s enjoyed success on the big and small screen. We discussed a variety of topics including the new season and his relationship with co-star and former girlfriend (yes they dated for real) Tasha Smith. We also chopped it up about the valuable lessons he’s learned from his friend and director Tyler Perry. And finally, why working for Oprah Winfrey is sort of like déjà vu.
Check out the excerpts below:
On his chemistry with co-star Tasha Smith…
What we have is a chemistry that has existed since the time that we dated. The friendship is the most important part of any relationship and we still maintain a very strong one. It’s a very unique bond that we have and at the end of the day, we really want what’s best for each other. So what people are seeing on screen is real.
On what he has learned from Tyler Perry…
Tyler’s time management skills are extraordinary and his work ethic is amazing. One thing I’ve learned is that I am really not that busy. As soon as I think I am, I could be busier. He told me to go for my dreams and not let grass grow under my feet.
On television roles being better than film roles…
Honestly, television has become better. It’s far better. If I start naming series, like Breaking Bad or Boardwalk Empire, there are no movies out there that even come close to these series. There is such an abundance of amazing television series out there. So any movie actor or any actor that wants to do good work is into television. There are more avenues now. You really get to act [on TV] when movies have become so formulaic. There boring to watch and they’re boring to do. It’s become so corporate that it’s really killing the art form. The only place where they’re taking chances is television and cable.
On working with Oprah Winfrey…
I actually met Oprah several times while I was in college. I also had a chance to do security for her back in the day. She instantly felt like someone I had known all my life. She is just so cool and so generous and she still maintains the same personality now. So to be that guy who escorted/body guarded Oprah so many years ago and now to be working with her is pretty cool from my perspective. It’s really a full circle moment.
For Better or Worse airs tonight with double-episodes starting at 9 p.m. on OWN!
RC with Michael Jai White at the 2011 Bronze Lens Film Festival
Photo Credit: OWN.com and RayCornelius.com