Christian White was your average college student – going to classes and looking forward to graduation – until he got a life-changing text one Saturday morning.
In February 2020, White learned from his manager that he had landed a role on Showtime’s “City on A Hill,” officially launching his professional acting career.
White, a senior at George Mason University, had been struggling to decide what was in store for him after college. After bouncing back and forth between degree paths, he ultimately chose to major in communication with a dual concentration in media production and criticism and public relations, along with a minor in information technology. His senior year of high school, he dabbled in an introductory theater class that challenged his comfort zone and opened his eyes to the world of acting. He developed a passion for acting and took classes in Northern Virginia and Maryland, but worried that he couldn’t count on it as a career, at least not yet. The opportunity for a recurring role on “City on A Hill” has solidified his desire to become a professional actor.
Showtime’s “City on A Hill”, produced by Ben Affleck and Matt Damon, stars Kevin Bacon and Aldis Hodge. Set in the early 90s in Boston, City on A Hill follows corrupt FBI agent Jackie Rohr (Bacon), who is looking to exploit Boston's criminal justice system in a desperate attempt to save his own career. White plays the confident Isaac Turner, a teenager living in the projects in Boston. His character debuts in Episode 2 of Season 2, airing Sunday, April 4 at 10 p.m. EST.
“He’s super hard on the outside but a softie on the inside,” White laughed. “He gets into a lot of conflicts, I’ll say, this upcoming season.”
Filming for the season ended in February, wrapping up White’s first television series set experience. He shot two episodes before the pandemic and two during, Zooming in to his classes from New York City. He credits this set experience as the push to master the art of multitasking, doing homework in any downtime he could budget - including on his bus rides to and from New York.
Working with big stars like Kevin Bacon and Aldis Hodge was nerve-wracking, but the experience made him better prepared for a successful career within the entertainment industry.
“Being around actors that I’ve seen on TV, and now working alongside of them was really kind of surreal,” he shared. “Everyone was super cool and super nice. From the hair and makeup people to the wardrobe people to the camera guys, the whole thing was like a family environment.”
Isaac is definitely not the end of White’s acting career. It is simply his debut – he’s already started booking more roles. White feels more confident now that acting is something that he not only passionately wants to do, but he can do. This role has confirmed for him that he has what it takes, because “I’m good at it,” he said.
White credits his acting, communication and people skills to the lessons he learned while attending George Mason University. He said from the group projects to the solo presentations, everything he’s learned in his communication courses has given him the tools he needs to succeed in his industry.
“Coming into Mason, I definitely wasn’t a people person at all. I was super timid, super shy, didn’t really like talking to anybody I didn’t know. Taking communication courses forces you out of your comfort zone,” White reflected. “I definitely think that’s helped me in acting because that’s what acting is. It’s being a people person, it’s being able to communicate with people, not just on set but off set, communicating with managers, directors, producers, with everybody.
White credits the communication department as a whole for giving him a solid foundation for his career. He recommends his course of study to others looking to follow in his footsteps. One of White’s favorite courses, Public Relations and Social Media (COMM384) with Professor Suzanne Mims, gave him a framework for working on the business side of his acting career. In this class, he learned ways to use social media strategically to further build his personal brand, expand his network and share the projects he’s been working on – something he considers essential for an actor.
His one piece of advice for young actors? “This is going to sound super cliche, but I would just say believe in yourself. I know that sounds cringy, but it's so true. Especially in this industry, there’s a lot of rejection. It’s part of the job - auditioning and auditioning, and getting told no over and over again. You have to believe in yourself and know that what’s for you will be for you.”
George Mason’s department of communication was recently named to the PRNews Education A-List, a roster of the top 35 educational institutions advancing the careers of PR and communication professionals in the U.S. Mason communication majors can choose to concentrate in public relations, journalism, media production and criticism, political communication, organizational or interpersonal communication as well as minor in other cross-department subjects. The department provides students with a blend of theory, research, and hands-on experiential learning to prepare them for the wide variety of careers in professional communication.
March 26, 2021