Detroit native Diamond White shines in ‘Madea Halloween’
If you’ve seen “Boo! A Madea Halloween,” then you know how much of a bothersome brat the feisty matriarch’s great niece Tiffany is in the movie.
But Diamond White, the gorgeous teenage Detroit native, actress and singer who convincingly plays Tiffany in the Tyler Perry comedy, swears she’s never been that insufferable.
“The majority of the people I’ve met, who have seen ‘A Madea Halloween,’ always tell me that they wanted to slap me when they saw me on screen,” White said. “But I hope that they don’t want to slap me in real life and think that I’m really like that. I’m 17, so I’ve definitely had my Tiffany moments, but for the most part, that’s not me at all.”
Even White’s two older brothers and older sister thought Tiffany was a nuisance.
“I live in Los Angeles now for work and they live in the Detroit area, so we weren’t able to see it together,” White said. “My older siblings were so happy and so proud to see it. But as soon as they saw the movie, they called me up and told me how annoying I am in it.”
White, who recently dropped the single “Chainsmoker,” also does voice work on several Disney series, including “The Lion Guard.” The budding star said she had a blast playing Madea’s antagonist, even if audiences hate the character.
“Even on set, Tyler was very playful with me and a lot of the lines that made it into the movie were improvised,” White said. “So it was fun being able to play around and be the brat because I realized that if I ever said those things to my mom, I would not still be alive. Going back and forth with Madea and Tyler was really funny. It was really hard not to laugh and break character on set.”
In a couple scenes, White is talking to three different characters all played by Perry, which required a lot of focus. Perry, White and the cast and crew shot “Boo! A Madea Halloween” at the beginning of 2016 on location in Atlanta.
“Real people stand in for him for the eye-line,” she said. “So there are body doubles standing in for him as my dad and as Madea, so I always had someone to react to and the body doubles read Brian’s lines and Madea’s lines. I just had to get used to acting opposite a different actor who wasn’t Tyler.”
It was a great experience for White, who had auditioned for the role without knowing it was Perry’s movie. There were so many other bigger-named actresses reading for the part at the audition, White said, that she threw the script away afterward because she thought she’d never get the job.
“A couple months passed and I got a call saying, ‘You booked this untitled project and we need you to come to Atlanta,’ ” White said. “I thought that was weird, but then I found out it was for Tyler Perry and the next day, the whole cast was at his house eating brunch and going over the script. It all happened really, really fast.”
Although “Boo! A Madea Halloween” is her first feature film, White’s whirlwind industry life is something her mom prepared her for when she grew up on the city’s west side. White was home schooled, went to every audition she could, even if that meant traveling out of state, and sang for the Detroit Tigers once. In 2012, she placed fifth on Fox’s short-lived singing competition series “The X Factor.”
Now, with a milestone birthday less than two months away, White said she’s starting to take everything more seriously.
“I’m trying to stay busy and keep moving,” White said. “With my 18th birthday coming up, real life is setting in now and everything is getting real. But then again, I’ve been one of those people who checks off stuff on a list my whole life. So, I do have a set list of things I want to do and accomplish.”
It’s a list that includes working with Perry again, who has become a mentor of sorts.
“He said he’s keeping an eye on me and that means a lot,” White said. “Tyler has been so sweet to me and has taken me under his wing, so I do think we’ll work together again.
“For people he takes a chance on, he does help see them through and help them with their careers, and I truly appreciate that. He’s such an amazing person.”
Mekeisha Madden Toby is a Los Angeles-based entertainment reporter and television critic.
“Boo! A Madea Halloween” is now in theaters.