Mari White is not only a beautiful woman, she’s an accomplished entertainer and producer. She got her start in modeling, but won rave reviews this summer in a New York production of “All American Girls,” a play about the first female African American baseball league. Her latest project is a reality show called “Mari White Presents the Newsboys,” which offers a behind-the-scenes look at the popular Christian band that happens to feature her good friend and veteran dc Talk member, Michael Tait, on lead vocals. It’s scheduled to premiere in October on multiple networks, including JCTV, NRB, Total Living Network, Miracle Channel, LegacyTV, Cornerstone Television, and FamilyNet. UrbanFaith talked to White about the show and about how she lives out her faith in the entertainment business. The interview has been edited for length and clarity.
UrbanFaith: Your professional credits include film, hosting, theater, TV, and modeling. How did you get into the entertainment business?
Mari White: I started in my late teens to pursue modeling and acting. I grew up very shy and very quiet and I thought that it would be fun to push those boundaries and make myself more outgoing and make myself be comfortable speaking in front of people and around a lot of people. So I did it more as a therapeutic type of thing, but it turned out to be one of the most enjoyable journeys of my life up to this point. I learned a lot about myself and I learned a lot about other people. The modeling seems like it would be fun, but you also have to recognize, it’s just a visual. I was able to recognize the pros and cons of being in the modeling industry as a woman and as a woman of God.
What are some of those pros and cons?
There are always opportunities where, as a woman, you’re booked for jobs that you may not feel completely comfortable with. Along with experience and along with age, you start to realize there are things that you don’t have to do. You don’t have to compromise. Same thing with acting. There are roles that you don’t have to accept. If I feel like it’s a quality project and there’s a bigger meaning behind it, then it’s something that I would pursue. All the work that I’ve done, I’m proud of and I feel like it recognizes different sides of a woman. You can absolutely be a woman of God and still be in the entertainment industry as long as you know who you are.
What kinds of faith challenges have you experienced?
Being in the entertainment industry is a great opportunity to rely on God because you never know what the next week or the next month will be. You may book a lot of work or you may not book any work. When you do book work, it still takes a while for the checks to come in. It’s not consistent. Every day is an exciting opportunity to see what’s going to happen.
How did you come to produce a show about the Newsboys?
I met the group a few years ago with the new lead singer, Michael Tait, and I had the pleasure of attending one of their live shows. I had seen many other groups perform before and always enjoyed this type of music, but I was blown away at how they performed. Without all the bells and whistles and the gadgets and smoke, they were amazing. Then when I did see them with all the bells and whistles, it was just that much more fantastic. The thing that caught my attention the most was the fact that there was so much history behind the Newsboys and also [Michael’s earlier group] dc Talk. Once I started to see these guys, and meet their wives, their families, and their friends, I recognized that they actually practice what they preach off the stage. That was something that I felt really needed to be seen: positive men for young people and for adults. It’s something that you don’t see on television that much.
How did you meet the band?
I used to host a Christian music television show based out of New York and I had the opportunity to meet multiple bands and performers in Contemporary Christian Music. I had the pleasure of meeting Duncan Phillips and Michael Tait of the Newsboys when the change had just happened with the band. While I was interviewing them, I felt bad because I wasn’t that knowledgeable about what was going on. They were sweethearts and they caught me up to speed during the interview. It was at that moment that I thought, “Wow, these guys are different.” In fact, something had happened with our transportation to pick them up from where they were performing, and they said, “No problem, we’re in Manhattan. We’ll just walk it.” They ended up walking like 14 blocks to our studio. That was the first thing that impressed me. I thought that was really down to earth and sweet and nice of them to do so. In the interview we had a blast. We just kept talking and talking. Ever since then, we all became friends. Their wives and I are friends. It’s such a great group of people, from the management to the label to the members, everyone is truly great.
What is your goal for the show?
I want to create a new type of Christian entertainment. I want to create entertainment that’s going to be fun, informational, and spiritual for everyone. Unless I’m mistaken, I don’t feel like there’s a lot of new and fresh family friendly, faith-based programming. The production value of the show is equal to any young adult program on any mainstream secular network. I feel like if you want to reach a faith based audience, a young audience, or even a new audience, you’ve got to be able to be on the same level of everything else that’s out there.
To watch the trailer for “Mari White Presents the Newsboys,” go to Newsboysshow.com.