Before White was born, his parents were stage actors trying to break into Broadway. When he arrived and they had to support a family, his father started a deposition filming business and his mother went into education. White inherited the performance gene, studying ballet, tap and jazz as a child. This ended when, at the ripe old age of 11, he found himself disillusioned with the lack of rigor in his college’s dance curriculum. “I didn’t think it was serious enough for me. So obnoxious,” he laughs. This prompted a move in the drama department.
He and his wife first met in high school, when they were 14. “I was immediately very attracted to her and her, too, I think,” he says. “But she had a boyfriend. I was so awkward about the whole thing. And then she went to another school and I was really broken.” (They now have two children, ages 3 and 1.)
Over the next few years, he had a few small plays and films under his belt. All the while, he was desperate to drop out of school. “I wasn’t a bad boy, I just hated school,” he says. “I knew it wasn’t going to help me.” As a compromise, he interned at a nearby casting agency, which helped make a real career in the arts more feasible.
Right after graduating, he landed the role of Lip in Shameless. He moved to Los Angeles on his own at 18, a city kid who couldn’t even drive. “I didn’t have a community outside of the show when I got there, and I felt super isolated,” he says. “I often went to Canter’s and read scripts. There was also something romantic about this solitude in the first year.”