Get to Know TEDxBroadway 2017 Speaker Alton Fitzgerald White
Editor’s note: Before we kick off our new theme, “Let’s Talk,” on March 21, we’re asking our TEDxBroadway 2017 speakers to tell us a little more about themselves.
Alton Fitzgerald White is a singer, actor and dancer who broke Broadway records with 4,308 performances as King Mufasa in The Lion King. He’s looking forward to the release of his upcoming book, tentatively titled PRIDE: My Journey From the Projects to the Pride-lands — Mastering the Challenge of Daily Performance.
What was the first Broadway show you ever saw?
I wanted my first Broadway show to be Sweet Charity starring Debbie Allen, but on the one day that I was visiting the city, the show was dark. The friend I was traveling with suggested La Cage Aux Folles at The Palace Theatre. He was familiar with the foreign film version and said that the stage version was a big hit. I was not at all interested and still pouting from not being able to see Debbie Allen, who was at her peak, starring in Fame on television, but I agreed to go. The show was phenomenal! It was so well-written, produced and acted that I was transformed from not being at all interested to rooting for every character on the stage because of the humanity of the story and the pure artistry of the storytelling. The show was the perfect example of how theater and art can open minds and educate.
What is your personal motto?
“Thy Will Be Done.” Being an artist can be very challenging and frustrating, and there is tons of time that must be devoted to preparing, often when there are no definite opportunities in sight. Still, you must keep your skills sharpened. When I reach the point of frustration, I remind myself that The Universe is giving me the energy to stay prepared because there are some things that are waiting specifically for my skill set or service according to the will of my Higher Power. “Thy Will Be Done” comforts me and helps to find the balance between action and surrender while I prepare for the unknown opportunities ahead.
Who is the first person you would thank in an acceptance speech?
My mother, Marietta White. I don’t know anyone on this planet who has sacrificed more or worked harder to provide for her children with such unconditional love, pride and grace. I am grateful that I chose her as a mother in this lifetime, and she is still to this day my No. 1 Cheerleader.
What is the most-played song on your iPod?
“Jump” by Madonna from her Confessions on a Dance Floor CD. The first few spoken lines are, “There’s only so much you can learn in one place. The more that I wait, the more time that I waste.” And then this hot, soulful beat kicks in with, “I haven’t got much time to waste, it’s time to make my way. I’m not afraid of what I’ll face, but I’m afraid to stay.” The song and its great beat inspires me when it’s time to take a chance and “Jump” into the unknown and trust that I will land on my feet. When my instincts alert me that something more is waiting for me, but I cannot see a clear path to it, I know that it’s time to summon the courage to take a leap of faith and go for it. Sometimes we need to walk or run, and sometimes we just need to jump!
What’s at the top of your bucket list?
It just so happens that I very recently crossed off my top bucket list item of spending a week at Disney World with my mother. Ever since I was a little boy watching The Wonderful World of Disney on TV on Sunday nights, I’ve had fantasies of taking my mother there. Due to our family’s modest financial situation and lack of extra resources, it seemed impossible at the time. In February, I was a part of the inauguration of a concert series at Epcot (another bucket list item — performing at Disney World and having her in the audience), so I flew my mother down and spoiled her like a queen. It wasn’t until after we got off of our first ride in The Magic Kingdom that I found out that my mother had never ever ridden an amusement park ride before! To share this with her is one of my greatest memories and will be difficult to top. It was an unforgettable week and moments like the ones we created together make every bit of my hard work worth it!
Additional details are available at TEDxBroadway. You can purchase tickets here. Follow TEDxBroadway on Twitter: @TEDxBroadway. The conference will begin at 1:00pm on March 21, 2017, at New World Stages in New York City.