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Beauty and the Beast's Brian White - Captain's Log

February 13, 2013

by Steve Eramo

Cuisine, sports teams, historical landmarks and, of course, TV and feature film personalities ? Boston, Massachusetts is well-known for many reasons. Among the familiar faces born and raised there is actor Brian White. The son of financial advisor Estelle Bowser and former Boston Celtics' basketball player Jo Jo White, he grew up interested in pursuing various professions and did, but ultimately it was the performing arts that won out.

"I played professional sports, both football and lacrosse, as well as worked on Wall Street before getting into acting," says White. "The latter?might not have happened, though, if I hadn't realized one day that I did not like being a stock broker and wanted to try to get back into football.

"I came out to Los Angeles and was having dinner one night with my old football agent, when a casting director approached us. She told my agent that she liked my look and I was right for a casting call she was having. I explained to her that I wasn't an actor, but my agent said, ?She's giving you a legitimate opportunity; let's check it out.'

"The next day I went to the audition, which was for UPN [United Paramount Network], and wound up booking a job on [singer/actress] Brandy's sitcom?Moesha. Thirteen years later, that led to?Beauty and the Beast?with some of those same network executives who now work at The CW network. That's what an acting career is. You should never burn any bridges because jobs are literally stitched years apart. Back in 2000, one of those executives might have said, ?You know what, I liked working with that young man; I might hire him again,' and here I am today."

As White just mentioned, he is currently appearing on the CW TV series?Beauty and the Beast?playing the regular role of NYPD Captain Joe Bishop. Having previously worked on TNT's?Men of a Certain Age, he decided to take a break from the small screen and focus on feature films. The actor and his representatives were, however, keeping an eye on the CW with the hope of one day finding a project for White.

"My team and I were interested in the CW as a network because we really like the type of content that they make," notes the actor. "One thing I find very commendable about the network is that 41% of their series regulars are minorities. That's second only to BET. Also, the types of roles on CW shows are the ones that I want to play as an actor ? they're heroes as well as role models, including lawyers, doctors, teachers and, of course, police detectives.

"So those are some of the reasons why we came to the people at the CW, to see if they had anything that might be the right fit for me. They, of course, then introduced me to the good folks at?Beauty and the Beast. Funnily enough, I had a previous association with one of its producers [Ron Koslow], who I worked with on?Moonlight. I played a fairly similar role on that TV show. He was a cop, but a different type of guy from Joe Bishop, and that's basically it. Those two serendipitous instances or occurrences came together and now I'm on?Beauty and the Beast."

Beauty and the Beast's Joe Bishop is in command of an NYPD homicide "Special Crimes Unit" that includes Detective Catherine "Cat" Chandler (Kristin Kruek) and her partner Tess Vargas (Nina Lisandrello). Unbeknownst to anyone ? except Cat ? they have a mysterious ally in Dr. Vincent Keller (Jay Ryan), a former U.S. soldier who became part of an experimental program that eventually went awry, transforming him and his fellow subjects into super soldiers and lethal killing machines. Thinking back, White's memories of shooting his first episode remain vivid to this day.

"The first thing I noticed was Kristin's work ethic as well as her temperament and mentality," he recalls. "Another reason why I took the job on?Beauty and the Beast?was to work with Kristin Kruek. I'm a big fan of hers, and anyone who can have a TV show [Smallville] on the air for 10 years has other things in their life that they're doing right, including the way they carry themselves, how they go about conducting themselves professionally on a set, their talent level, etc.

"There's a light in Kristin that illuminates us all on-set. It's a big crew as well as cast, but it all starts with ?number one' on the call sheet. Kristin works some very long days, and it takes a special person to stay in such positive spirits and be so upbeat, to be a leader and to keep the mood light when they have to do a lot of heavy material. That's what it takes to set the tone on a show in order for it to be successful, or at least have that chance, so that's what stuck out the most for me on my first day of work on?Beauty and the Beastand every day since."

Along with his professional responsibilities, the show's audience gets a glimpse into Joe Bishop's personal life as well. "One of the biggest points of interest for me with this character is that he has a love interest, which is a bit different from any TV show I've done recently," says White. "Also, rather than playing more of an antagonist, I'm playing one of the heroes or protagonists, so that's a 180-degree turn for me.

"Joe has a wife and a lot on his plate, and we get to explore that relationship. It's not necessarily a perfect one, it's a tumultuous one. He's very much a human being with real and relatable flaws, but he's a good guy, you know? So those three aspects together are, again, considerably different from my recent TV work and intrigued me as an artist.

"We've seen a lot of growth and development with Joe," continues the actor. "I can only tease about what's coming up without ruining any story points, but like I said, Joe is a married man in a flawed and turbulent marriage, and we're approaching a point in his story line where something happens at the office with him and a coworker ? one of the other main characters ? and we end up with somewhat of a big choice to make with Joe.

"It's a very real predicament for a lot of people as well as a very relatable one for the audience and challenging for me as an actor to fully flesh out Joe's circumstances. He's dealing with a number of things on the job, including fellow officers that aren't necessarily getting along as well as they should be, so he has headaches at work and more headaches at home.

"I can tell you that we'll meet Joe's family. His wife has been cast ? it's Kearran Giovanni, who is an excellent actress from?Major Crimes. His brother has also been cast and is played by Christian Keyes, another very talented actor and a fan favorite with the ladies. So I'm excited to have these top-shelf actors helping me flesh out Joe's life and complicate things deliciously."

Back at the office, Joe must deal with very opposite relationships involving two of his officers. "Tess and Catherine are two sides of the same coin," explains White, "and I think Joe has his eyes on them both for different reasons. One character, without giving a direct spoiler, plays into the tug of war that I eluded to earlier, and the other is front and center in the struggles at work with his team and the officers who Joe is in command of.

"So both ladies are playing point in different struggles in his life, one on the professional side and the other on the personal side. I think we started at a place where the audience viewed these people as having a purely work relationship. However, as we get towards episodes 10 through 15, we delve a lot deeper?into both ends of the spectrum."

Speaking of episodes, is there one from?Beauty and the Beast?that White is especially fond of?

"I'm not certain what order the episodes are going to air in, but in 12 and 13 I really enjoyed shooting my scenes with Nina, who plays Tess,' he says. "She's a fantastic actress to work with and someone who has an incredible [acting] range and is extremely grounded. What's so cool about Nina is that she embodies both femininity and strength ? strength that is equal to any man ? in the same persona. So she can have a bit of an edge but at the same time can be the most feminine, sexy creature in the room, which makes for interesting scenes with her."

Long before reporting for duty as Joe Bishop on?Beauty and the Beast?or booking his first TV role on the aforementioned?Moesha, White's debut in front of the camera was as a "featured extra" in the 1994 romantic comedy-drama film?The Best?Man.

"I had just finished playing professional football and was cast as more or less myself to play a professional football player participating in the wedding of Morris Chestnut's character," says the actor. "I had the chance to be around him as well as actors like Terrence Howard, Taye Diggs, Sanaa Lathan and Regina Hall. That's the first time that I really got the acting bug and to see that caliber of actor who was around my age and working at a high level on such an upstanding project.

"The Best Man?was a very successful, well-received movie, and it was an eye-opening experience for me because this movie's theme made me feel proud. I liked the people I was working with and, unlike football, thought, ?I can probably do this job until I'm 85 years old. Hmm, maybe there might be more to this.' Immediately after this, the opportunity with?Moesha?came about and it terrified me. I remember the first time the red light on the camera came on, I felt like I was drowning. I couldn't remember a line, but I opened that door so to speak, walked through it and things turned out fine. I've been doing this ever since then and trying to challenge myself more and more every time out."

The Family Stone,?The Game Plan,?Politics of Love,?Good Deeds?and?Cabin in the Woods?are among the actor's other movie credits. On TV, he guest-starred in such series as?Ghost Whisperer,?Body of Proof,?CSI: Miami?and?Burn Notice?as well as had recurring roles on?The Shield?and?Men of a Certain Age.

"I was so very blessed to have worked with some of the best actors in the industry when I did?The Shield?and?Men of a Certain Age," says White. "I mean, you're talking about two of my best experiences ever in TV or film, and that accolade I paid to Kristin earlier about her work ethic, can also be paid to Michael Chiklis [The Shield] and Ray Romano, Andre Braugher and Scott Bakula [Men of a Certain Age]. They're just like Kristin, the best of the best with the best temperament as well as work ethic and the salt of the Earth people.

"I really owe a great deal to Michael Chiklis for taking me under his wing and being a mentor and teaching me what being a successful actor is all about. I did?The Shield?for a few years and I got to work closely with him and the rest of the cast, and that's really where I cut my teeth. I learned from the best about how to be the best or how to go about trying to be.

"I can't say enough about that show as well as?Men of a Certain Age?and the writers, directors, producers, cast, everyone involved and their professionalism and pursuit of excellent with every single take. That has stuck with me my entire career and it's the standard that I'm always trying to live up to."

Besides his acting, White is also a published author- having co-written the book?Black Carpenter: Straight Talk for a Solid Foundation, a youth empowerment guide. "You can get more information at our website -?www.blackcarpenter.com," he says. "That's another big project of mine for 2013. I'll be doing school tours and visiting several high schools and colleges and just trying to empower kids to create their own success in life with the various tools that have helped me."

For more information about Brian White please go to -?http://BrianWhiteOnline.com

Courtesy of Scifi and TV Talk