“I feel like I’m one of the luckiest people on Earth,” says Brooklyn, N.Y.-born Michael Jai (pronounced “Jye”) White, one of Hollywood’s most respected actors (best known for his high-profile roles in Black Dynamite, The Dark Knight and Spawn).
But as a teen, he garnered a reputation for being a much-feared street fighter. “I hung precariously out of line when I was a kid,” he says. “I could have gone in another direction had it not been for some intervention from positive role models at the right time. And the blessings that I have now, I have to share them.”
It is why the 44-year-old former middle-school teacher has long been active in causes involving African American youths, most related to diabetes and obesity prevention–and why he is getting more active in the HIV/AIDS movement.