The first African-American to portray a key comic book superhero in a major motion picture almost didn’t happen, as Michael Jai White, the star of the 1997 movie Spawn, was at the time focused on solidifying his epic role as a father.
“When you become a dad, all of these amazing epiphanies come to you, says White, who is also father to Devin, Jahari and Jai. “And I said, ‘Well, I have to put my dreams on hold.’ I immediately started training for the police force, figuring I would be a cop and earn extra money. I was two days away from joining the police academy when I was cast off-Broadway in To Kill a Mockingbird. It was my first professional acting role, and I felt that it was a sign. I’ve been acting ever since.”
As a former single dad, White also knew he had to be his eldest child’s everything while balancing his career. “It’s like the roles switched; I had to raise my child alone.” Understanding the challenges of what so many Black mothers face on a daily basis put things into perspective and became a catalyst for White to aggressively pursue his acting career. “I got to see what struggle really was, so I had to work hard to overcome it.”