Parlé Mag Exclusive Feature with Actor Tye White
Not yet a household name, Tye White of OWN’s new hit series Greenleaf won’t have that issue for very long. Quickly gaining recognition for his role as Kevin Satterlee in the new series, White says his upbringing will keep him humble despite the impending stardom.
Tye White first started thinking about becoming an actor and filmmaker thanks to his grandmother. As a young boy, he would watch the soap opera “General Hospital” with her and she talked about always wanting to be an actress. He started doing school and church plays and soon realized that a nine-to-five life wasn’t for him. He wanted a career based in art and his family was quite supportive. He says a few family members commented that maybe acting wasn’t the right thing, but their intentions were good and they only tried to stir him in the right direction. At the end of the day, what’s for you will be for you no matter what anyone says. His grandmother was the influential and pivotal role model that would always tell him, “Don’t stop, go, you could be good at this.”
Before being cast for Greenleaf, White appeared on VH1’s Drumline: A New Beat and in the miniseries The People vs. OJ Simpson: American Crime Story. Both opportunities propelled him on a path to eventually audition for the part on Greenleaf. He says initially he read for the part of Jacob, but heard that Lamman Rucker auditioned for the same part. He assumed the part would be given to Rucker because he’s already well known. To his surprise, his manager called him to ask how his final audition went; then informed him that the casting director wanted to offer him a different role. He gladly accepted the role of Kevin Satterlee, the son-in-law of the pastor of Greenleaf Minstries—but also has a gay storyline. “Getting an opportunity to work on this show, is life altering and like a dream,” says White. He was so excited when he received the good news, he recalls telling his sister about it first. Family, friends, and his girlfriend all shared his excitement.
Without a doubt we can only imagine how epic working with Oprah would be. White shares the sentiment and wanted to share some of the things he’s learned from her thus far. He says, “She’s the consummate professional. She has an ability to engage with you in a meaningful way in one instance, then go right back to business in the next. I’ve observed her more than anything and I’ve seen her ability to multi-task, her drive, her focus and her talent to delegate. She’s taught me ways to become a better business person.”
“Additionally being part of this cast, has been an endless wealth of knowledge. You always want to learn from those that you look up to, and I’ve picked Keith David’s brain on business, acting and just life because he’s been around the block several times. If I could just have some of his knowledge on success rub off on me, just a little bit—I’d be good to go,” White teases with a hint of seriousness.
Tye White also offered that his character was easy to embody, in a sense because he has so many greats around him. “As an artist you always have doubts and wonder am I good enough or do I suck—but when you’re working alongside these greats, you discover that you don’t suck. You may not be on their level, but you’re happy to just play on the same court that they’re on. It feels good to be in the same company as this talent and they welcomed me with warm arms, knowing that I’m a little wet behind the ears,” White reveals. “However, from a character stand point it was challenging because as an artist you want to tell compelling stories and that’s something that drew me into this role—this is something that goes on not just in churches in general, but in Black churches particularly, people are constantly challenged on things with their own personal struggles. So it’s a story that I relished to tell.”
In closing, White reminds us to continue to tune in. The show has already been picked up for a second season, so that’s great news for both the cast and fans. If you’ve seen one episode, then you already know that Greenleaf is full of drama… so if you have tendencies to like a little drama in my your life—then Greenleaf will continue to not disappoint. Plus it tells an overall good story.
Follow Tye White on social media @wewantTyeWhite
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