- Posted June 24, 2014 by
Dennis L.A.White: The Man, The Actor, His Mission
Tell us about your journey transiting from Dennis Da Menace (The Artist) to Dennis LA White (The Actor)?
Dennis Da Menace was my musical alter ego. Growing up in a household full of music, I was exposed to all types of sounds. My Mother, Becky White, is a gospel writer. She was nominated for a Grammy. My Father, W. Dennis White, has a nice voice as well. So music is in my blood. My Album, "The Wonderful World of Dennis" had a lot of variations of styles of music. I felt like if I never recorded again, I had a chance to get shit off of my chest. From hip hop to Rock to Gospel I touched a lot. It was on the billboard charts heavy. We were unfortunate to release the album during the time that the government starting cracking down on payola. It was a huge investigation after a revealing 20/20 segment. It was a monumental task to get radio airplay as an independent artist during that time. We hit the streets and did shows all over to increase the fan base. It worked.
Music will always be with me. I still record and write music. It's impossible for me to not perform. Honestly I feel like it's time to throw my hat back into the arena. I've got so much I want to say that's been building up that I need to get out. Playing Megastar Rapper Mistah Ray on NBC's "Parenthood" fueled my desire to get back in the booth. I recently filmed an episode of Reagan Gomez's show "Almost Home" and played a battle rapper. It invigorated me. The hunger has arisen. LOL!
My journey didn't actually transition from the Artist to the Actor. Both of those paths have been in pursuit congruently. It's possible to do both. I must admit that the acting took precedent when my executive producer, Dark Gable, passed away the night before he was supposed to sign a deal for my next project with Sony Records. I was crushed. I stopped doing music for a year. We had visions of being Dame and Jay or Puff and Big. His death changed all that. His death changed me.
I thrusted myself fully into my acting career and the pursuit. It helped me take my mind off of his death. Every song I've recorded since his death, I think about him.
Where is Dennis Da Menace, do he still perform, write, or rap? Do you think you would ever get back into the music industry?
Dennis Da Menace is now D. Menace.
Nowadays, everyone wants to Act, Get to Hollywood, or Star as the leading male/female in a motion picture, can you tell us how your road has been through your years in the business? Why or Why not?
I feel like the emergence of so much reality television has flooded the market with faux "Actors". The craft has taken a back seat to social media presence. How many Twitter followers you have trumps how many emotions can you convey convincingly. I really started pursuing film and TV while living in NYC. I remember how when I told people that I was an Actor they relished in knowing that and appreciated my desire to follow my dreams. Now, especially living in L.A.. the responses are more like "AND?" or "So!". LOL! Here in L.A. everyone is either an Actor or knows one or is related to one. It's far from an anomaly.
I've never let others opinions deter me from following my destiny. My road has had many bumps and detours and roadblocks. But it has also been paved with amazing scenery and interactions with incredible individuals and cherished moments. This isn't a job. It's a career. there has been peaks and valleys but I respect the journey. I'm here for the long haul.
Many people say, Hollywood is no place for the African American male/Female? Have you found this statement to be true?
I totally disagree. Hollywood is what you make it. Of course, there is a huge difference between the amount of African American films and Caucasian films. My opinion is that the studios are ran, owned and supported by Caucasians and those of Jewish descent. They write, produce and distribute their stories. Which they should. We, as African American, can't expect or rely on others to tell our stories and celebrate our heritage. It's our responsibility to get our stories told. There has been an amazing advancement of that. Films such as "The Help", "Notorious", "12 Years a Slave", "Red Tails", "Mandela" and others have open the doors for more African American projects. I can't wait until we get the resources to do period pieces on African Kings and Queens played by Africans and African Americans. There are some African American Icons that need to do more and produce more films that don't include coonery and/or the denigration of our race. Those African Americans with an abundance of financial resources should focus more on investing and purchasing major film studios and distribution companies instead vying to buy the Clippers. Our focus can be displaced at times. It's our burden to produce and distribute our own films. It is now possible.
Now you have the program “Act Like You Know” which is a vessel to help, teach, and educate aspiring actors in the business, landing the role, and understanding the right way to ace an audition. What made you decide to start this program, especially in an industry where most actors are out for self?
I started "Act Like You Know" in 2008. I was getting bombarded by aspiring Actors who had a plethora of questions about auditioning, how to get into character, how to gain representation, etc. With my experience from being a PA, a background performer, a stand in, a producer, a series regular, a TV host, a personality, a guest star, a voiceover artist, a supporting cast member and a casting associate, has given me a broad knowledge of the industry. I figured that obviously there must be thousands of Actors out there who really need the tools necessary to survive in this industry. So, I started giving workshops and it began to spread like wildfire. Actors have been flocking to my workshops and classes. They respect the fact that I keep it totally honest with them and they can appreciate the level of my acting talent. I've taken classes from people who never been in a studio film or on network television. How can you tell me how to do something you have never done? Teaching has really became my mistress. I love the look on my students faces when they see the elevation of their skills. Or when they lose themselves in a character.
I was always taught that it is totally impossible for me to play every role in every film or television show. So why not help those Actors that have raw talent and desire to join our club? I want to flood the industry with students from "Act Like You Know". No other Actor can ever take a role from me. What's for me will always be for me.
Recently, I have been giving virtual acting classes to those students from across the country. So, if there are students in Idaho that wants to have a 1 on 1 acting session I make myself available.
Have any of your “Act Like You Know” students received placements in either movie or film? If so, how does that make you feel?
This is one of the things that makes me the proudest teacher in the world. When I am contacted by a producer or a casting director who needs a particular type of Actor and one of my students fits the criteria and lands the role. That's what this is all about. Why invest in a class or a workshop and the instructor doesn't invest in you?
Recently one of my students contacted me and thanked me for giving him a speaking role on an episode of "Parenthood". That role led to him getting his SAG card. I was so proud of him. But here's the thing, he was given an opportunity and he executed it to perfection. He was ready. I've put many other students in TV shows and films. But to my defense, I only will do that for Actors that fit the character and that can be successful in that role. With my reputation on the line, I have to be sure they won't let me down or the production down. It's such an amazing feeling when they book roles, though.
What can we expect next from you?
A film I am starring in with Fredro Starr and Snoop Pearson called "Diamond Ruff" comes out in November. A new TV series called "The White Sistas" with Lisa Wu, Elise Neal, Paula Jai Parker, Golden Brooks and Countess Vaughn should be released in January. I will be appearing in the new season of Cartoon Networks, "Black Dynamite" and I will be appearing in several upcoming plays. As always, I will continue to teach my classes and workshops in various cities. Currently I am teaching a class in L.A. and I will be in Philadelphia soon to teach a Workshop.
Any last words ?
If not now, When?
How can people get in touch with you?
FB,Twitter, IG: @dennislawhite. Follow me, I will follow back.