Steve White on Meeting Nelson Mandela, Typcasting in Hollywood


Comedian Steve White is not only a headlining comic, he's also a successful actor. And like any good actor, he knows it's often all about the waiting. "Right now I'm waiting for someone to give Mr. Robert Townsend some money, because I star in his next film, which we already shot," he says. "It's called Playin' for Love. We're just waiting for a distributor to give him some money so we can be on the silver screen again."

White's movie credits include films such as Coming to America and Spike Lee's Do the Right Thing and Malcolm X. For the latter, White got to travel to South Africa with that film's star, Denzel Washington, and meet Nelson Mandela. 

"We sat in the great man's house and convinced him to be in the film," he says.

[jump] White's TV roles include Hangin' with Mr. Cooper, Martin, and The Jamie Foxx Show. With such a wide variety of acting experience, White has never been typecast, nor has he ever worried about it.

"I'm too busy just trying to get cast," he laughs. "I was never worried about getting typecast. And the industry has changed with the internet. You've got to follow the example of people like Louis CK and people like that who take things into their own hands and develop their own projects. Going to L.A. for pilot season? I can't do that anymore, I've got kids."

That means being on the road, doing gigs all over the country. If someone in Hollywood does want him, though, he's not hard to find. "If they're serious about bringing me in, I'll get out of those gigs. That's what happened with Robert Townsend. I was performing on a cruise ship, and my agent called and said, 'Robert Townsend is looking for you.' Oh, yeah? I got off the ship."

A former accountant, White first tried standup in Massapequa, New York, the hometown of the Baldwin brothers, as well as comedians Bob Nelson, Jerry Seinfeld, and Bobby Slayton.

"It's the same club where Eddie Murphy started," White adds. "It was started by a comedian named Richard M. Dixon who used to do an impression of Richard M. Nixon. That was his claim to fame, and he opened a club where people could come and try out their stuff onstage. That's what I was there doing."

White's accountancy training did come in handy when he lived in Los Angeles. "I managed real estate, and I had my own building in California," he says. "So I would be the one that would do the month-to-month rent roll, add new tenants, and all that stuff. But as far as sitting behind a desk and pushing a pencil? That was not going to happen."


Steve White

Rick Bronson's House of Comedy

Mall of America, 408 E. Broadway, Bloomington

18+; 21+ later shows.

$15-$20; $25-$44 on New Year's Eve.

7:30 p.m. Wednesday through Friday; 10 p.m. Wednesday; 9:45 p.m. Friday; 9:30 p.m. Saturday; 7 p.m. Saturday and Sunday.

For tickets, call 952-858-8558 or visit