Radio and TV Talk

Rodney Ho covers TV and radio, from Atlanta’s stations to the hottest “American Idol" news.

Tye White talks about playing Jason Simpson on 'The People vs. O.J. Simpson' and role in 'Greenleaf'

By RODNEY HO/, originally filed Tuesday, March 15, 2016

Tye White, an up-and-coming actor, has spent a lot of time in Atlanta lately shooting OWN's Oprah Winfrey drama "Greenleaf," which debuts in June.

But you'll first get to see him tonight on the seventh episode of FX's "The People vs. O.J. Simpson" as one of O.J.'s sons Jason, Some discredited theories a few years back circulated that Jason may have murdered Nicole Simpson and Ron Goldman. He has since kept a very low profile with rumors he is living in Atlanta as a chef. (No Instagram or Twitter page for him.)

White (who does have a Twitter/Instagram/Facebook handle @wewanttyewhite) said he played Jason when he was 25 who believes his father is innocent. He feels bad for Jason given what happened and can't blame him for avoiding the spotlight.

He said working with the likes of Cuba Gooding Jr. as Simpon and John Travolta as Robert Shapiro was gratifying.

"They were as warm as could be," White said. He said Gooding taught him ways to do his lines that weren't overly dramatic but believable, something Gooding said he picked up from Dustin Hoffman in "Outbreak."

My interview with Gooding about O.J.

White is a Michigan native who did some theater in college. But he decided to first pursue a safer career in banking. For a few years, he made good money but got bored. So six years ago, he quit finance and moved to Los Angeles to pursue his real dream of acting. He said he was a big lackadaisical at first, living off his savings, partying a bit too much. "I wasn't really pedal to the metal," he said.

With no real roles coming, he began bartending. He did some HR work for a charter school. He eventually ran out of savings. He was broke - and a bit broken. His father upbraided him but gave him enough money to sustain himself a couple more months. Humiliated and chagrined, he decided to really work.

He got an agent. He started getting some small roles. He came to Atlanta to guest on Fox's short-lived "Red Band Society" and then nabbed a role on VH1's "Drumline: A New Beat," also shot here. He got recurring work as LL Cool J's character's son on "NCIS: Los Angeles."

Last year, he then nabbed his first regular role in "Greenleaf" as the husband of a preacher's daughter Charity. "I get along with the family considering I married into it," he said. "He's really into his wife. He loves her dearly. They're college sweethearts."

The show, he said, is "elegant and beautiful." (I watched the pilot. Indeed, it is not at all like "Empire" and "Scandal" but much more thoughtful and internalized.)

Oprah Winfrey, he said, will appear quite a bit on the show, more than he expected. (Indeed, her role as Mavis, the ne'er-do-well sister of the First Lady grew as the season went along.) "People will be pleasantly surprised," he said.

Oprah spoke to him personally about his character. "She loves the chemistry between me and my wife," he said.

He said Keith David as the preacher is "perfect casting. He slid into that role so easily. His voice is so resonant when he preaches," White said. "You're moved. He was just a wealth of knowledge. He took me under his wing."

Lynn Whitfield plays the First Lady, he said, "so strong. She rides the line between love and hate. If you rub her the wrong way, watch out."

The actress who plays his wife and choir director Deborah Joy Winans (niece of CeCe and BeBe Winans) is also new to a regular TV role. "We're going on this ride together," he said. "We're learning together."


"The People vs. O.J. Simpson," 10 p.m. Tuesdays, FX



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Rodney Ho covers radio and television for the Atlanta Journal-Constitution.

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