Mike White has many roles in the film industry, including director, screenwriter, actor, and producer. White has a reputation for being an astute and adaptable actor and writer who prefers to work on smaller, more niche projects rather than Hollywood blockbusters.
White is well-known for his work on the 2011-2013 HBO series Enlightened, in which he also served as a writer, director, producer, and co-star. His co-star in the critically acclaimed series, Laura Dern, also served as director and producer.
White isn’t the kind to take the reins. He plays the role of the thoughtful observer who waits for the right moment to act. White has taken home two Best Screenplay Independent Spirit Awards.
White was born in Pasadena, California, to Mel and Lyla White. His father, Mel, was a conservative evangelist who penned speeches for personalities like Jerry Falwell and Pat Robertson. His mom worked in fundraising for museums and theatres.
White’s father Mel came out as gay when White was in his twenties. Although they were no longer married, his parents maintained cordial relations even after the divorce.
Lyla became the executive director of the renowned Pasadena Playhouse, while Mel White went on to found an advocacy group for the LGBTQ community called Soulforce.
White received his education at both the Polytechnic School of California and Wesleyan University
in Middletown, Connecticut. He met his lifelong friend and fellow aspiring screenwriter Zak Penn in college.
Penn took his screenplay, Last Action Hero, to Hollywood, where he sold it. He contacted White and proposed that White settles in Los Angeles to write screenplays. White began working with his companion on a joint piece of writing.
remarked in an interview with Vulture, “I was fortunate to meet him because he was a highly sociable screenwriter who knew all the up-and-coming executives, so I met a lot of people via him.
It was satisfying for someone like me, who prefers to retreat to a cave and compose. Having a foot in the Hollywood social world is helpful.
White wrote his first significant screenplay for the 2000 film Chuck and Buck
. He also had a starring role in the film.
This film was deemed the greatest of the year by Entertainment Weekly, which also praised White’s work in the lead role.
Orange County, a film from 2002, was his next commercially successful screenplay. White publicly acknowledged his bisexuality in an interview with the Advocate.
The magazine quoted him as saying, “It’s not actually that I’m attempting to be unclear. It’s true that it takes all kinds, and I happen to be one of them.
White has appeared in a number of films, including the reimagined 2004 version of “The Stepford Wives” and “Zombieland
He scripted the following films:
- Orange County.
- The Good Girl (also actor).
- School of Rock (also actor).
- Beatriz at Dinner.
- Year of the Dog (also director).
- The Emoji Movie.
- Gentlemen Broncos.
- Pitch Perfect 3.
- Magic Magic.
- The D Train.
- Brad’s Status (also director and actor).
- The One and Only Ivan.
TV Roles and Screenplays
White first gained recognition for his work on the television shows Dawson’s Creek and Freaks and Geeks.
Cracking Up, a comedy series that he developed, wrote and produced in 2004, aired for the first time that year.
When Survivor: David vs. Goliath premiered in 2018, White was a contestant. In addition, he and his dad have competed in the Amazing Race twice.
White admired Survivor and its creator, Jeff Probst
It’s amazing to me how much goes into both productions, he stated in an interview. As a fellow producer, I have the utmost admiration for both shows and what they’re capable of accomplishing without compromising the rules of the game.
There’s a lot of national pride in both shows. They have a high level of honesty in regard to allowing events to unfold naturally. My astonishment at this is hard to put into words.
Awards and Nominations
- Critics’ Choice Award.
- Deauville Film Festival.
- Las Vegas Film Critics Society Award.
- Golden Satellite Award.
- Seattle International Film Festival Award.
- Two John Cassavetes Independent Spirit Awards.
- Golden Raspberry (for the worst screenplay for The Emoji Movie).
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Favorite Quotes from Mike White
“I’m a competitive person and my competitiveness has outlasted its usefulness. I don’t go, ‘I wish I had a yacht,’ or something like that, but especially in the world of Hollywood, there’s always some new thing everybody is excited about, whether it’s the Oscars or something else.
When you’re in that headspace, you can get caught up in the game, even if you try to push it out or block it out. I think people would be lying if they said there’s not some cluster of people who they compare themselves to, or have some kind of comparative anxiety with.”