Christian is proving that it doesn’t matter where you are from, what matters is your drive, dedication and the belief that you can make it in Hollywood.
Currently, Christian has a recurring role on the hit Showtime series City on a Hill. We had the chance to talk with the young actor about how his passion for acting began, what it was like auditioning for his role on City on a Hill and what advice he has for other up and coming actors.
Pop Culture Principle – Your introduction to acting was a theater class in high school?
Christian White – I guess you can say taking that class is kind of when the acting bug bit me. It was kind of on a whim. I just needed a class to fill my schedule and I felt like why not take theater. It was out of my comfort zone, but I actually really liked it. It was so different from my math and science classes because I got to express myself in a way that I couldn’t really do in my other classes and from there, I took acting head on.
Pop Culture Principle – So, prior to taking that introduction to theater class, acting wasn’t even on your radar?
Christian White – Not really, no. I always loved movies and tv shows growing up, but I never really considered acting seriously until this class.
Pop Culture Principle – While at George Mason University, you got a text that changed your life?
Christian White – I went up to New York on a Thursday to audition for City on a Hill. On Saturday morning, I woke up to a text from my manager telling me that I had booked the role. It was crazy because the process was super fast. Usually, it doesn’t happen that fast. Usually it’s an audition and a call back the next week and maybe another call back and then you book it, but the fact that I booked the job off of one audition was pretty wild.
Pop Culture Principle – Can you tell us a little bit about the audition process? Were you nervous at all?
Christian White – Yes, I was nervous. I’m not going to lie, I’m a little nervous during any audition. A good kind of nervous though. But I had just come off an audition where I had gotten all the way to the director and producer session and I didn’t book it. So, I was already kind of warm and ready for the next audition and I was feeling like I kind of know what I am doing now. So, when I got this one, I definitely prepared hard. I was grateful because I got the audition two days in advance. Usually, I only get the audition 24 hours in advance so this gave me a little more time to prepare for the role, which I was grateful for.
I then took the Megabus from Washington, DC and shot up to New York for the audition. I only had one scene for the audition and the entire audition only took about five to ten minutes. I did the scene and the casting director gave me a little bit of re-direction to do the scene another way, I did it and he said thank you and I left. Once you leave the audition and you head home, it becomes very nerve-wrecking because you start overthinking things. You start to wonder what you could have done differently, but I’ve learned to try and relax on that for the most part.
Pop Culture Principle – You’re taking communication classes at George Mason University. How did those classes help you?
Christian White – They definitely helped me. Coming into George Mason, I was very timid, super low-key and super quiet. I didn’t like talking to people that I didn’t know and I didn’t like talking in front of people. I still don’t to a certain extent. But with those communication courses, they force you out of your comfort zone whether you like it or not and that definitely helped me when it came to doing interviews, talking with managers, directors and agents.
Pop Culture Principle – Can you tell us about your character Isaac?
Christian White – Yea, so Isaac is teen living in the Braxton Summit projects in Boston where Season 2 is set. He is a member of the Braxton boys which is Anton and Kelvin’s crew. He is hard on the outside and soft on the inside. He’s the leader of his group of friends. He gets into a lot of conflict this season for sure.
Pop Culture Principle – The show is set in the 90s and we noticed you have an interesting haircut for your character.
Christian White – I didn’t know exactly what they were going to do with my hair. On my first day on set, I had an idea that they would do something with my hair because my hair didn’t look like it was from the 90s. So, I get to the hair and make-up trailer and the hair stylist tells me she’s going to give me the Gumby haircut and I said alright. I sat in that chair for an hour and she made sure it was nice and tight.
Pop Culture Principle – How did you prepare for this role? Were you giving any background information about this character or did you come up with his backstory?
Christian White – They basically just gave me the description for the character and told me to run with it. With each director, they would give me little notes, but it was basically my interpretation and what I thought this character would be like during this particular time period.
Pop Culture Principle – Can you tell us what it was like stepping on the set of City on a Hill for the very first time knowing this was your first major role?
Christian White – It was a surreal experience for sure. I mean, coming from Spotsylvania, VA and then all of a sudden being on a major television set in New York and being around actors I had seen on television before was crazy! I was a little nervous at first. I tried to act like I had been there before and play it cool, but on the inside I was still just processing everything and taking it all in. I’m so grateful to the cast, the crew, the production assistants and the hair and makeup people. Everyone was really welcoming and that made it a really smooth experience for me.
Christian White – So, I don’t have any scenes with Kevin or Aldis unfortunately, but I did get to meet Kevin Bacon. I met Kevin one day at catering because we were on set the same day because he shot a scene right after I did and I got to chop it up with him a little bit.
When I first saw him coming towards me, I was thinking is that really Kevin Bacon coming towards me right now. He was the nicest person. He came up to me and introduced himself to me and gave me a fist bump. It just showed how humble he is and just the nicest guy which is completely opposite of the character he plays on the show.
Pop Culture Principle – Have you had any memorable experiences while working on City on a Hill?
Christian White – I would say during episode 3. My character had a scene with Anton and he kind of roughs me up a bit. He pushed me against the fence, throws me on the ground and takes my jacket and shirt. That was a fun scene to shoot. I did the stunt myself. That was my second day on a professional set ever and they had me do my own stunt scene. The Friday before we shot the scene, we had stunt rehearsal and they had a stunt guy doing it so I could see it and then they told me I could jump in. It was crazy! We did about ten takes for that scene because they had to get several different angles for it.
Pop Culture Principle – You had a couple of great scenes with Amanda Clayton who plays Cathy Ryan. Can you talk to us a bit about working with her?
Christian White – Working with Amanda was great. I watched the entire first season and loved her character, so the fact that I got to work with her this season was great. She was very humble, chill and just down to earth. She really helped me out with the blocking for the scenes we did and she was just a cool person to vibe with and act opposite of.
Pop Culture Principle – What can fans look forward to with the rest of Season 2 of City On A Hill?
Christian White – The show definitely picks up. You can see from the most recent episodes that things are heating up and Jackie is definitely back to his old ways. It’s only going to get crazier from here!
Pop Culture Principle – Where would you like to see yourself five to ten years down the road?
Christian White – I’d say in the next five to ten years, I’d want to be a little more established and have a few more roles under my belt. I just want to be known for telling good stories and doing good work. I want to be one of those actors who you know will deliver no matter what role they take on.
Pop Culture Principle – What are your thoughts on actors who say you have to be all in or nothing when it comes to acting and that there is no plan B?
Christian White – I completely get the people who believe it is all in or nothing. I’m that way to a certain degree, but I also don’t want to be the struggling actor who is on the street and has nothing else to hold them up. I want to get some sort of job to sustain me while I am pursuing my acting career and auditioning for these roles until I can get to the point where acting can take over and I don’t have to do anything else.
I mean, I definitely get the people who believe it’s either actor or nothing at all, but it’s also important to have some kind of money coming elsewhere so that you aren’t struggling trying to figure out where your next meal is going to come from while you pursue your dream. I wouldn’t call it a plan B, but rather something that keeps you going while you’re pursuing plan A head on.
Pop Culture Principle – What has been the best advice that you have received when it comes to being an actor and finding your way in this business?
Christian White – One of the pieces of advice that I got early on and stored in my head was from actor Craig Robinson. He made a visit to my school and I got the chance to talk to him about auditioning and the business. Around 2018, I just had an audition for the Central Park Five and I talked to him about it. I told him that I went into the audition room and I saw twenty kids in there that looked just like me and I asked him how could I stick out from the crowd.
He told me that there is nobody else that can do what you do. Regardless of how many people that are in the room that look like you, you are the only person that is going to make the choices you are going to make. You are the only person that is going to do the scene the way you are going to do it. So, just use that and don’t try to blend in and give them what you think they want to see, give them you because no one else can be you but you and that is what is going to make you stand out. So, I just took that advice and ran with it.
Pop Culture Principle – What advice would you give to a young actor who hasn’t booked that first role and who wants to be in the business?
Christian White – Just keep going. It’s really a marathon, and rejection is just part of the process. With each no you get, there is always something you can learn from that no and apply it to your next audition. Eventually, you will have an audition where you will do great and the role is meant for you. What’s for you will be for you and what’s not, won’t be. It’s hard, but you have to keep grinding and keep doing what you can do to perfect your craft. Most importantly, trust God and keep the faith, and just keep pushing! Like Nipsey Hussle said, the marathon continues.
Pop Culture Principle – Are there any upcoming projects that you can tell us about?
Christian White – I can’t say too much about it, but I do have another project coming up. I can’t say what the show is yet, but it’s a hit series on Amazon Prime that is in its second season that I have a role in. It’ll be coming out sometime this summer.
A huge thank you to Christian White for taking the time out of his schedule to talk with us. You can catch new episodes of City on a Hill every Sunday night at 10/9c only on Showtime! If you would like to keep up with all of Christian’s latest news and projects, you can follow him on Instagram @christianmaverickwhite, Twitter @cmw_9 and also follow his official Facebook page here.
**All photos courtesy of Christian White**