Dallas White’s nickname was “Magic Boy” as a teen. He had dreams of opening his own magic store when he walked the halls of Brunswick High School. Now, the 24-year-old has found magic of another kind. In just two years, White’s full-time acting career has brought him featured roles in the upcoming indie thrillers “What Sorrows May Come” and “Blood on the Leaves.” He’s also had uncredited roles in major films “Neighbors 2” and “Bad Moms.”
“Once I finished high school, I went to Frederick Community College,” White said. “[Magic] didn’t last long. Fortunately, it thrusted me into another path, into acting.” There, White learned method acting from Jeffery Keilholtz, an actor, writer and playwright. Keilholtz taught White to pull from past experiences with nonconventional assignments like drinking a cup of coffee. The next day, students re-enacted the feeling of steam rising on their skin.
Keilholtz pulled the former set builder to the front of the curtains. “Dallas has a lot of sensitivity and was a very committed student. He was very open to the idea of learning how to use his own emotional instrument to experience and express through imaginary circumstances. If he continues exploring those sensitivities, I think he can go far.”
White’s promise also showed in a local radio station internship where he was promoted to an on-air personality in just a month. He dressed in silly costumes and did magic tricks for promotions. Even when he had no script, White was still acting. “I kind of had a character on that show. I’m kind of, like, not a smart person on the show, so I would sometimes [say], ‘Oh, what’s that? What are you talking about?’ That third person on the show that would [give it] that mix. Throughout that, I wanted to do this for real.”
White left Frederick Community College in late 2012. He participated in the 72 Film Fest and visited TV series sets like “House of Cards” to gain exposure. In doing so, White found a medium he loved. “At that moment, I figured I wanted to be a film and TV actor, not a stage actor,” White said. “Performing onstage is a little different from what my pace is.” The relaxed process of different takes and incremental scenes attracted White.
It wasn’t long before White emerged from the background and used Keilholtz’s lessons for speaking roles. “There’s a scene where my girlfriend dies and I’m in interrogation as the first suspect,” White said of his February role in REELZCHANNEL’S “CopyCat Killers.” “The way I did that, you’re so in the moment, not thinking of anything else. So what if your girlfriend did die? And here you are, they’re suspecting you kill her. What a backlash.” White honed in on these emotions to make himself cry during the shoot. “It’s a challenge, but I like challenges, and I’d rather go that route.”
White chose a challenge that could have killed him in Fox News’ June television series “Legends & Lies.” He played a customs agent who was almost hanged by early colonists for obeying the King of England. “It’s a dangerous stunt. People died doing stunts like that,” White said. “I actually didn’t know I had the role until I got to the set. I was just going as background but I ended up getting upgraded to this role.” Surrounded by a director, stunt coordinator and a medic team, White pushed the limits. “I wanted [the rope] to choke me a little bit. That way it’s real emotion. You got that vein coming out of my head.” Despite the dark subject, White remained his upbeat self. “But yeah, that was a lot of fun,” he said with a laugh.
White can see the silver lining even through the clouds of his grueling life. Though he has agents and consistent acting gigs, White currently sleeps in a living room in Atlanta. “For the [past] two years, it’s been rough financially. Going from set to set. I have to sleep in my car sometimes. Shower at the gym. Those are the tough nights, and the sacrifices in this career that you have to do.” So far, none of White’s roles have come with housing accommodations. “I was in Charleston for a month and I was hopping couches. My parents actually couldn’t take it.” White’s parents booked him four nights in a hotel for their peace of mind.
Despite the challenges, White’s big break may come in the form of a small, non-speaking role in “Bad Moms.” The studio film, starring Mila Kunis, Kathryn Hahn and Kristen Bell, will debut in theaters July 29. “I debated if I wanted to say this or not because it may make the cutting room floor. Back in December, I ended up auditioning, a self-tape audition to the director of ‘Bad Moms,’” White said. He later received a call that he will be in a scene with Kathryn Hahn. “After I got off the phone, I was screaming like a little girl.” This role could change his life. “It takes one big film to spark you. It doesn’t matter how small the role is. You can do the background and a director can say hey, I want you to do the lead in my next film. You never know.”
Whether it’s drama or comedy, indie or studio, White is willing to do what it takes to break into the business. “David Letterman lived in his van in New York City for a year until he got his break. Kelly Clarkson did what I did. Slept in my car and showered at the gym,” White said. “Nothing is more rewarding than the journey you face. That’s what I always say to everybody. If you choose to do that path and that sacrifice, that’s rewarding in itself. You won already.”
Written by Imade Borha
Features Writer for the Frederick News Post