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Michael Jai White (born November 10, 1967) is an Americanmarker actor and professional martial artist who has appeared in numerous films and television series. He is the first African American to portray a major comic book superhero in a major motion picture, having starred as Al Simmons, the protagonist in the 1997 movie Spawn.


White first appeared in The Toxic Avenger Part II. He also made a brief appearance in Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles II: The Secret of the Ooze and NYPD Blue as a uniformed police officer who was the younger brother of Lieutenant Arthur Fancy (played by James McDaniel). White travelled to Asia to make a number of films for that market including Full Contact with Chow Yun Fat and Silverhawk with Michelle Yeoh to learn more about making movies and fight choreography although for the most part, the films aren't great and his involvement is minimal and not indicative of what he can do. His first major starring role and breakout performance was in the 1995 HBO film Tyson, as heavyweight boxer Mike Tyson. He portrayed the titular character in the 1997 movie Spawn, making him the first African American to portray a major comic book superhero in a major motion picture. His work in Spawn earned him a nomination for the Blockbuster Entertainment Award for Best Male Newcomer. White starred opposite Jean-Claude Van Damme in Universal Soldier: The Return. In 2001 he also starred opposite fellow martial artist Steven Seagal in Exit Wounds. In 2003, he starred in Busta Rhymes' and Mariah Carey's music video "I Know What You Want". Since 2003, in addition to his on screen roles, White has been doing voice work, including Static Shock, Justice League, and the upcoming Spawn series. White showcases his martial arts skills in the direct-to-DVD film Undisputed II: Last Man Standing. He also appears in Michelle Yeoh's Silver Hawk in 2004. His film, Why Did I Get Married? opened at number one at the box office on October 12, 2007.

White's played the role of the mob boss Gambol in the Batman Begins sequel The Dark Knight. He is also starring in the film Blood and Bone and the blaxploitation homage Black Dynamite, which are both slated for a 2009 release. In Black Dynamite and his upcoming 3 Bullets with Bokeem Woodbine, White is writing the scripts as well. This isn't the first time he's written material, but this is the first time the movies have been realized.

Personal life

White was born in Bridgeport, Connecticutmarker and graduated from Central High Schoolmarker in 1982. He is an accomplished martial artist, holding seven legitimate black belt in Shotokan, Tae Kwon Do, Kobudo, Goju Ryu, Tang Soo Do, Wushu and Kyokushin, with a specific focus in Kyokushin (although his style incorporates aspects of many different martial arts forms). White started martial arts training at the age of seven. In August 2005 he wed his girlfriend of two years, Courtenay Chatman, an OB/GYN who trained in Philadelphia and Los Angeles. The couple have a daughter named Morgan Michelle who was born on December 24, 2008. Michael has two sons from a previous relationship.



  1. "Michael Jai White is first Black comic superhero to star on the movie screen in 'Spawn.'", JET, September 22, 1997. Retrieved October 17, 2009.
  2. Spawn was released on August 1, 1997, two weeks before the release of Steel, which starred NBA basketball player Shaquille O'Neal.
  3. "Male Celebs Who Practice Martial Arts", JET, Sept. 24, 2001, at pp. 38-39.

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