Mike White (filmmaker)

Michael Christopher White (born June 28, 1970) is an American writer, actor, producer, and director for television and film, and reality television show contestant. He has won numerous awards, including the Independent Spirit John Cassavetes Award for the 2000 film Chuck & Buck, which he wrote and starred in.[1] He has written the screenplays for films such as School of Rock (2003) and has directed several films that he has written, such as Brad's Status (2017). He was the co-creator, executive producer, writer, director and actor on the HBO series Enlightened.[2] White is also known for his appearances on reality television, competing on two seasons of The Amazing Race and later becoming a contestant and runner-up on Survivor: David vs. Goliath. He created, writes, and directs the ongoing HBO satire comedy anthology series The White Lotus.

Mike White
Mike White in 2011.jpg
White in November 2011
Michael Christopher White

(1970-06-28) June 28, 1970 (age 52)
Alma materWesleyan University
Occupation(s)Writer, actor, producer, director
Years active1997–present

Early lifeEdit

White was born in Pasadena, California.[3] He is the son of Lyla Lee (née Loehr), a fundraising executive, and former executive director of the Pasadena Playhouse, and Reverend Dr. James Melville "Mel" White, a former speechwriter and ghostwriter for Religious Right figures such as Jerry Falwell and Pat Robertson.[2] His father came out as gay in 1994 and became an activist.[4][3] Due to his father's religious background, White grew up in a modest household in a conservative Christian community.[5] He attended Polytechnic School which he thought was a "very conservative country-club school".[5] Later he went to Wesleyan University, where he met writing partner, Zak Penn. Penn convinced him to move back to Los Angeles, and helped him to get work soon after graduating.[5]


Although White and Penn's writing partnership ended a few years later due to their different sensibilities, they remained on good terms, and White credits him with getting him into Hollywood's social circles.[5] White was a writer and producer on Dawson's Creek and Freaks and Geeks and wrote and acted in the films Chuck & Buck, The Good Girl, Orange County, School of Rock and Nacho Libre.[6] He also had a role in the 2004 remake of The Stepford Wives, and the 2008 film Smother. Chuck & Buck, in which White portrayed a manchild who stalks his childhood friend, was named the best film of 2000 by Entertainment Weekly. In an interview with The New York Times, Jeff Bridges called White's turn in Chuck & Buck "the performance of the decade".[7]

He frequently collaborates with actor–writer Jack Black on films. Together they formed the production company Black and White, which closed in 2006.[8] White is not a fan of classic rock, but he wrote School of Rock specifically so Black could perform his own favorite rock music.[9]

White made his directorial debut with the self-penned Year of the Dog at the 2007 Sundance Film Festival.[10][11][12] He was a member of the US Dramatic Jury at the 2009 Sundance Film Festival.[13]

Laura Dern brought White into a project with HBO which became the series Enlightened that premiered on October 10, 2011. Dern's character, Amy Jellicoe, goes to a Hawaiian retreat after her professional life publicly implodes, and is introduced to meditation. White himself had suffered an on-the-job meltdown while running an earlier television series, and incorporated elements of that experience, as well as his own exploration of Buddhist meditation, into the new series' plot.[14][6] White wrote the pilot and all the episodes in the first and second seasons.[2]

White is a credited writer on The Emoji Movie, he spent three weeks with the film's screenwriters, and helped with the structure of the script. For this project he received a Golden Raspberry Award.[15][16] He wrote and directed the 2017 film Brad's Status.

In 2021, White created, wrote, and directed The White Lotus, a satirical limited series for HBO.[17][18]

In February 2022, it was announced White would write two upcoming animated films for Universal Pictures and Illumination: the original comedy Migration, set to be released on December 22, 2023, and the fourth installment in the Despicable Me franchise, set to be released on July 23, 2024.[19]

The Amazing RaceEdit

He appeared on the fourteenth season of The Amazing Race along with his father Mel.[20] They lasted for seven legs before being eliminated in sixth place in Phuket, Thailand. Mel and Mike returned to compete in The Amazing Race: Unfinished Business, where they were the second team eliminated in Japan after they both developed hypothermia.[21]


White was a contestant on Survivor: David vs. Goliath, as a member of the Goliath tribe, then to reshuffled Jabeni tribe and the merged Kalokalo tribe.[22] He made it to Day 39 and received three jury votes, finishing in second place behind the winner Nick Wilson.

White said he had been a big fan of the show, and because of his connections had developed a friendship with the show's host Jeff Probst, providing the host suggestions towards improving the show. For instance, Probst stated that it was White who discouraged him from bringing back Redemption Island for Survivor: San Juan del Sur.[23] At some point White decided to start trying out to be a participant of the show, but he failed to be picked over what he believed was a concern of having "sloppy seconds" from other reality television programs. White noted that once he was selected, he had had no other conversations with Probst until the game was concluded.[24]

Personal lifeEdit

White is a vegan and lives in Santa Monica with his partner, Josh. He also owns a house in Kauai.[3][25][26][27] He is openly bisexual.[28][3][29]



Title Year Director Writer Producer Notes
Dead Man on Campus 1998 No Yes No
Chuck & Buck 2000 No Yes No
Orange County 2002 No Yes No
The Good Girl 2002 No Yes No
School of Rock 2003 No Yes No
Nacho Libre 2006 No Yes Yes
Year of the Dog 2007 Yes Yes Yes Directorial debut
The Hills with James Franco and Mila Kunis 2007 No No Yes Short film
Gentlemen Broncos 2009 No No Yes
Magic Magic 2013 No No Yes
The D Train 2015 No No Yes
Beatriz at Dinner 2017 No Yes No
The Emoji Movie 2017 No Yes No
Brad's Status 2017 Yes Yes No
Pitch Perfect 3 2017 No Yes No
The One and Only Ivan 2020 No Yes No
Migration 2023 No Yes No
Despicable Me 4 2024 No Yes No

Acting creditsEdit

Title Year Role Notes
Star Maps 1997 Carmel County Writer
Chuck & Buck 2000 Buck O'Brien
Orange County 2002 Mr. Burke
The Good Girl 2002 Corny
School of Rock 2003 Ned Schneebly
The Stepford Wives 2004 Hank
Are You the Favorite Person of Anybody? 2005 Respondent Short film
Welcome to California 2005 John Goodman
Smother 2008 Myron Stubbs
Gentlemen Broncos 2009 Dusty
Zombieland 2009 Gas Station Clerk
Ride 2014 Roger
The D Train 2015 Jerry
Brad's Status 2017 Nick Pascale
The One and Only Ivan 2020 Frankie (voice) / Passing Driver Also writer


Title Year(s) Director Writer Producer Creator Notes
Dawson's Creek 1998–1999 No Yes Supervising No Wrote 9 episodes / Produced 22 episodes
Freaks and Geeks 2000 No Yes Supervising No Wrote 3 episodes / Produced 17 episodes
Pasadena 2001–2002 No Yes Executive Yes Created and produced 13 episodes / Wrote 6 episodes.
Cracking Up 2004–2006 No Yes Executive Yes Created and produced 12 episodes / Wrote episode: "The Fixer"
Earth to America 2005 No Yes No No Television special
Enlightened 2011–2013 Yes Yes Executive Yes Created, wrote and produced 18 episodes / Directed 6 episodes
The Boring Life of Jacqueline 2012 No No Executive No 10 episodes
Mamma Dallas 2016 Yes Yes Executive No Television pilot
School of Rock 2016 No Yes No No Episode: "Come Together" / Also wrote original theatrical film
The White Lotus 2021–present Yes Yes Executive Yes Anthology series

Acting creditsEdit

Title Year(s) Role Notes
Freaks and Geeks 2000 Chip Kelly Episode: "Kim Kelly Is My Friend"
Undeclared 2001 Pet Store Employee Episode: "Eric Visits"
Pushing Daisies 2007 Billy Balsam Episode: "Bitter Sweets"
Enlightened 2011–2013 Tyler 15 episodes
Mamma Dallas 2016 Himself Television pilot

Non-acting creditsEdit

Title Year Notes
Dog Whisperer with Cesar Millan 2007 Dog Owner
The Amazing Race 14 2009 6th Place (with father, Mel White)
The Amazing Race: Unfinished Business 2011 10th Place (with father, Mel White)
Survivor: David vs. Goliath 2018 Runner-up

Awards and nominationsEdit


  1. ^ Chocano, Carina (October 7, 2011). "Stuff Mike White Likes". The New York Times. Retrieved November 23, 2011.
  2. ^ a b c "HBO's 'Enlightened' Take On Modern Meditation", Fresh Air interview with Dern and White on NPR, October 10, 2011. Retrieved October 10, 2011.
  3. ^ a b c d Keeps, David A. (January 20, 2013). "Mike White Would Like to Make You Squirm". Vulture. Retrieved December 14, 2022.
  4. ^ Steve Inskeep. "Religion, Politics a Potent Mix for Jerry Falwell", NPR, June 30, 2006.
  5. ^ a b c d Buchanan, Kyle (September 13, 2017). "Everyone in Hollywood Is Envious. Mike White Is Willing to Talk About It". Vulture. Retrieved December 14, 2022.
  6. ^ a b Hyman, Dan (November 15, 2011). "Enlightened's Mike White on His Reluctant Return to TV and His Own Nervous Breakdown". Vulture. Retrieved December 14, 2022.
  7. ^ "The Best Performances of the Decade". The New York Times. February 17, 2010. Retrieved February 19, 2013.
  8. ^ "Jack Black to Produce in College Football, Big Paydays for Humiliation". Movieweb.com. October 6, 2006. Retrieved November 23, 2011.
  9. ^ "Mike White Goes to the 'Dog'". Fresh Air from WHYY. NPR. Retrieved November 23, 2011.
  10. ^ Dargis, Manohla (January 29, 2007). "Any Little Gems? Who Cares? Sundance Is a Hot Brand Now". The New York Times. Retrieved December 14, 2022.
  11. ^ Anderson, John (January 21, 2007). "Year of the Dog". Variety. Retrieved December 14, 2022.
  12. ^ Martin, Denise (February 27, 2013). "Mike White on Enlightened's Tough Road to a Third Season and Why He Thinks Men Don't Want to Watch Shows About Women". Vulture. Retrieved December 14, 2022.
  13. ^ "2009 Sundance Film Festival Announce Jury Members". Retrieved December 14, 2022.
  14. ^ Bennett, Laura (January 17, 2013). "An 'Enlightened' Mike White Wants to Change TV". The New Republic. Retrieved January 23, 2013.
  15. ^ Buchanan, Kyle (September 13, 2017). "Everyone in Hollywood Is Envious. Mike White Is Willing to Talk About It". Vulture. Retrieved December 13, 2018.
  16. ^ McNary, Dave (March 3, 2018). "'The Emoji Movie' Wins Razzies' Worst Movie Award". Variety. Retrieved December 13, 2018.
  17. ^ White, Peter (October 19, 2020). "'Enlightened's Mike White Sets Limited Social Satire 'The White Lotus' At HBO With Connie Britton, Natasha Rothwell & Sydney Sweeney Among Cast". Deadline Hollywood. Retrieved August 2, 2021.
  18. ^ "New HBO Limited Series THE WHITE LOTUS From Mike White Debuts July 11". WarnerMedia. May 10, 2021. Retrieved August 2, 2021.
  19. ^ Grobar, Matt (February 18, 2022). "Illumination & Universal Set Dates For Animated Films Migration & Despicable Me 4". Deadline Hollywood. Archived from the original on February 18, 2022. Retrieved February 18, 2022.
  20. ^ "Mel and Mike: Amazing Race". CBS. Retrieved January 26, 2009.
  21. ^ Olmstead, Kasey (November 22, 2010). "The Amazing Race 18: All Stars! (Spoilers)". Archived from the original on December 6, 2010. Retrieved November 23, 2011.
  22. ^ Ross, Dalton (September 13, 2018). "'Survivor': Filmmaker Mike White, Wrestler John Hennigan to Compete on Season 37". The Hollywood Reporter.
  23. ^ Ross, Dalton (September 13, 2018). "Mike White takes credit for killing Redemption Island on 'Survivor'". Entertainment Weekly. Retrieved March 21, 2020.
  24. ^ Schneider, Michael (September 26, 2018). "Mike White Found Enlightenment by Competing on 'Survivor' — Where Even His Agent Couldn't Find Him". Indiewire. Retrieved October 23, 2018.
  25. ^ VanArendonk, Kathryn (August 15, 2021). "Mike White Accepts the Criticism". Vulture. Retrieved December 14, 2022.
  26. ^ Brooks, Xan (October 29, 2022). "'I'm a bloated, overpraised Hollywood guy': The White Lotus creator Mike White on sex, God and disliking success". The Guardian. Retrieved December 14, 2022.
  27. ^ Battan, Carrie (July 18, 2021). "Mike White on Money, Status, and Appearing on "Survivor"". The New Yorker. Retrieved December 14, 2022.
  28. ^ Ferer, Lawrence (March 2, 2012). "White out: writer-producer Mike White comes out and discusses the gay subtext in his new comedy, Orange County". The Advocate. Archived from the original on November 8, 2004. Retrieved November 23, 2011.
  29. ^ Ethan, Shanfeld (November 27, 2022). "Mike White and 'The White Lotus' Stars Break Down That Jaw-Dropping Twist: I Want to 'Make Gay Sex Transgressive Again'". Variety. Retrieved December 14, 2022.

External linksEdit

Preceded by
Domenick Abbate
Runner-Up of Survivor
Survivor: David vs. Goliath
Succeeded by
Gavin Whitson