Michael Jai White

Brooklyn-born Michael Jai White survived his rough urban upbringing and entered the entertainment industry on the strength of his martial arts credentials, backing fellow black belt Steven Seagal in a soup commercial for Japanese television, making his feature debut as Alley Guy 1 in "True Identity" (1991, billed as Michael White) and playing a bit part in Roland Emmerich's "Universal Soldier" (1992), starring another martial arts maestro, Jean-Claude Van Damme. He appeared in straight-to-video fare like "Ring of Fire" (also 1992), "Full Contact" (1993) and "Lion Strike" (1994), as well as on episodes of "Living Single," "Martin" (both Fox) and ABC's "NYPD Blue," before coming to prominence as the eponymous star of the critically-lauded HBO special, "Tyson" (1995), cutting an imposing figure as boxing's former Heavyweight Champ. White, who had Tyson's mannerism's down cold, used his karate background to sell the boxing scenes while delving deep into Iron Mike's tortured psyche to deliver a top-quality acting performance that complemented his impressive athleticism.