Last night I caught Marvel’s latest superhero sequel, Captain America: The Winter Soldier, and my eyes and ears perked up upon the appearance of one of the film’s smaller roles, that of Councilman Nagendra Singh. Here was this actor, who I knew I had seen countless times on screen and was clearly South Asian; yet despite running this blog I could not recall the man’s name. After disappearing down an internet rabbit hole for an hour or two I can now shine a bit of a spotlight on Bernard White, a regularly working actor with nearly 100 credits to his name from about 30 years in Hollywood.
Born in Sri Lanka, White – who is now 54 – came to the US at a young age where he went to high school in Detroit, then graduated from Michigan State University. He booked his first on-screen role at 24 with a part on “Days of Our Lives,” and rapidly racked up credits from iconic TV shows like “Knight Rider” and “Murder She Wrote.”
While steadily working in film and television, White also performed on stage and according to his IMDB bio theater was his first love. He formed an experimental theater company called “Plymouth” in Los Angeles.
Some of the largest films he’s appeared in include the two Matrix sequels, The Scorpion King, and American Dreamz. He’s been on a massive variety of popular TV shows, from“ER” to “The West Wing” to “24” and recently, “Silicon Valley.”
The odds of White breaking out in a major way are stacked against him. Unlike the more diverse roles younger South Asian actors having been getting the past five years, a South Asian actor in his 50’s has to fight much harder against type casting. This is why is great to hear that he has taken it upon himself to start his own theater company to satisfy his creative yearnings.
Additionally, the steady work he has done for several decades now seems to be snowballing into more prominent roles than ever – it’s certainly possible that a casting director finally sees his worth and gives him the breakout role he deserves. In the meantime I’ll look forward to seeing him pop up in a wide array of film and TV roles year after year.