Grace Under Pressure

Worlds away from writing speeches for Jerry Falwell, out Soulforce director and reformed evangelical Mel White joins forces with screenwriter son Mike (School of Rock) for The Amazing Race.

BY Dan Avery

February 10 2009 1:00 AM ET

Did either you or Mike get recognized during filming? I don’t see myself as a celebrity, but
people recognize Mike all over. Back home, he has
paparazzi shooting and asking him questions. When we
were [traveling], this woman leaned over to us on a bus and
said to him, “I like your movie.”
I’m a dad, so of course I got a puff of pride. I
mean, I don’t see him as an actor or screenwriter, I
just see him as my kid. When I see him on the screen,
I don’t see the character, I see Mike. Which
was really uncomfortable when I saw Chuck &
Buck.
[Laughs] I was so taken aback.

How did your husband feel about your leaving for
almost a month to traipse around the world?
Gary’s been in the limelight with me for
a while, so he was just as happy to relax at home. And
happy for me to spend time with Mike. I’m on the
road a lot, so I don't know that he even missed me! [Laughs]
People ask us how we made it 27 years? And he says,
“'Cause Mel’s gone a lot!”

The season was filmed last fall. Did you feel like
you were missing out on the election?
That was the hardest part -- being away from the
election and all the reporting that went along with
it. We’d see headlines as we raced by, but we
had no laptops, no iPods. Being without the Internet and a
Blackberry for 35 days is wonderful, once the shock
wears off. But I love CNN. I let if flow over me like
water. And I like to watch FOX to get angry and get my
juices flowing. They took the phones and TVs out of our
rooms! At first I thought they were too rigid, but I
realized the focus really has to be on the show for
the duration.

Sometimes traveling together can ruin an otherwise
healthy relationship. Were you worried about that
happening with you and Mike?
Well, Mike set down the rules for me pretty
early on. One: We’re doing it for fun and if
we’re not having fun, lets not do it. And two:
We’re trying to win, but we’re not gonna
get aggro about it. Sometimes he’d have to
remind me not to be so aggro, like when the cab driver drove
us around in circles. But we ended up having such fun,
which was my main goal. The producers asked,
“Will this lovefest never end?”

Was Mike well-behaved on family trips as a child? He didn’t like to travel too much
because it took him away from what he liked to do,
which was make movies. He was always so preoccupied with
it; we got him a camera when he was 8.

Tags: television

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