NIDA Mum – Geraldine White

To celebrate Mother’s Day, we sat down with a few students whose mothers played a huge role in them choosing a performing arts career and/or training here at NIDA.

Our next chat was with second year Bachelor of Fine Arts (Acting) student and Japan-raised, Alex White, and his mother, Geraldine White.

Photo (L–R): Geraldine White and Alex White

Describe your mother.

ALEX: My mother is a saint of an Irish woman. She’s small, bubbly and selfless – filled to the brim with warmth. She’s a nomad – she left Ireland with my father when she was 19 to travel all over Asia and New Zealand, and is now living in (Brisbane) Australia with me. And she has done everything, from working at a law firm, to being a board member at a school, to having her own small English class in Asia. But despite all her experience, she’s a very down-to-earth person.

And because of all my parents’ travel, I was actually born in Japan. So she loves telling the ‘made in Japan’ joke.

What do you like to do together?

ALEX: My mum is a legendary cook so we spend a lot of time in the kitchen together, when we’re in the same place. We’re very close, so something as simple as going out for a coffee together is very easy. She’s the kind of person you can do anything with.

When did you first realise Alex had a talent for acting?

GERALDINE: I first realised Alex had a talent for acting when he was a little six year old in Year One. His class was learning about Antarctica and putting on a play about the life of penguins.

Yet, while the other children were quite nervous and shy, Alex seemed to love playing off of the other mini actors on stage. He brought out the best in his classmates as a result. He loved believing in the worlds of these little plays and it made watching him really captivating. I know I am biased as a mother, but somehow I think I wasn’t the only one who saw this little boy find his passion.

How has your mum encouraged your journey towards becoming an actor?

ALEX: When I was younger, my mum was the first person who realised I had a talent and interest in acting, and she was the first person who believed in me.

She taught me how to take care of myself from a young age – to be self-sufficient and generous in my own way. I haven’t asked my parents for money since I was 15. Because of this, I have been able to take care of myself by moving out and going for auditions. Without her, I wouldn’t be here in Sydney.

Most parents are a bit hesitant and critical when they hear that their kids want to become professional actors or singers, or entertainers in general. When I told her I wanted to act professionally, she firmly said, ‘Go for it!’ Knowing that she supported me made me fearless. And even though she is a very biased critic, she always gives me a forward response right before a performance I’m worried about, and then I’m able to take on the world.

What went through your mind when Alex said she wanted to be an actor?

GERALDINE: I was delighted when Alex told me he wanted to be a professional actor. I have seen him perform countless times and, even though I’m biased as his mother, I think he is really good! The best thing a mother could hope for her children is that they find a career that they love and enjoy, and get paid for!

In what ways are you like your mother? What habits or quirks have you adopted from her?

ALEX: She taught me how to be an open and genuine person – just to always be my true self. I think we’re both very social and easy to get along with. We love a good laugh and appreciate the little moments in life.

We’re both really paranoid about stuff – we overthink things and tend to call each other out when it’s happening. We go through worst case scenarios and really get lost in them, and once we realise what we’re doing, we laugh it off.

What part of yourself do you see in Alex?

GERALDINE: We are similar in many ways and yet different.  One part of me that I see in Alex is determination; once we make our minds up to do something, we focus and give it 100%.

I know there might be more than one, but name one specific moment during your artistic journey where you felt your mum really had your back.

ALEX: When I first came to Australia, I didn’t have a driver’s licence and I had this gig as a background actor in Angela Jolie’s Unbroken, in addition to a Shakespeare show and a few other paid jobs. The call times for these opportunities were usually 3am or 4am, and she would get up every morning and drive me to set. Every single morning, about an hour each way. And she’d come back and get me at 5pm as well – I hitched a ride back a few times, but she picked me up most days. That meant A LOT to me. Now that I have my licence, I drive her around every chance I get.

What would you like to tell Geraldine this Mother’s Day?

ALEX: You have touched a lot of people with your kindness and generosity – if I could be half the person you are, I would be happy.