(KGET) — More often than not an actor will have to go through weeks – or even months – of training before taking on an action role. Gillian White was halfway there for her work in “Take Back.” The film opens in select theaters on June 18 and will be available through digital platforms the same day.

All of the fight scenes came naturally to the star of the new film “Take Back” because along with being an athlete her entire life, White has been training in martial arts for a decade. She did need some help with handling firearms and for that she turned to her co-star, Michael Jai White, who also happens to be her husband, who has had action roles in the past.

“I love that I can incorporate the martial arts training into my roles now. It’s actually very exciting,” White says. “I am kind of afraid of guns but I pick up on things pretty quickly.”

The training was necessary because White plays Zara, a wife and stepmother who goes to war against the group of men – lead by the character played with snarling evil by Mickey Rourke – who has kidnapped her stepdaughter as part of their human trafficking business. It is a business Zara knows too well.

“Take Back” makes White the first female black martial arts action star. It was the chance to play the person who deals with the bad guys instead of waiting for the men in her life to step up that made White want to play the role.

“I saw this script and I said ‘I love this.’ I love that it’s women’s empowerment. I love that she’s such a strong character but she had vulnerabilities as well,” White says. “She rose to the occasion when she needed to save her daughter.

“I felt like women would be able to connect with so many facets of her life.”

White knew taking on the role in “Take Back” was not going to be easy. She had to be able to make all of the heavily choreographed fight sequences look real while staying in character and delivering lines of dialogue.

Days when she would have to record more than one fight scene and deal with the heavy emotional moments for the character left her exhausted. But, it also made her happy.

It was a bonus that she got to work with her spouse who plays her husband in the film. Some may balk at working with the person they are married to but she found the experience pleasurable because of how well they get along on and off the set. It also made it easier at the end of the day to go home and talk to her husband about any romantic scenes because he was there also.

White also applauds the work Rourke did in playing the villain of the piece. She calls him a force on screen even when the temperature on location in the desert reached 120 degrees.

White describes the work conditions as some of the toughest she has ever experienced. She laughs and says if she has a say in her next project it will shoot in Hawaii so she can feel cool ocean breezes.

One reason White is so comfortable with action scenes is that while she was growing up she wanted to be an FBI agent and received a scholarship from the LAPD to attend Howard University and study Administration of Justice. Now she has to settle with playing a member of law enforcement or someone one who enforces justice through acting roles.

White has been working in TV and films for 20 years with such projects as “How to be a Player,” “Jackie Brown,” “Martin” and “Bamboozled.” Along with “Take Back,” White can be seen in the popular BET series “The Oval.”

One of her favorite acting jobs was portraying the Amazon warrior, Amoria, on the TV series “Xena: Warrior Princess.” 

“I had so much fun on that show,” White says. “The fact I got to go to New Zealand to shoot it and it was such a great cast.”

A major difference between past jobs for White and “Take Back” is that she is an executive producer on the project. That’s why she is just as concerned about the film after the filming stopped as when the cameras were rolling.

The fact the movie will open in theaters and be available for home viewing is a very positive position as far as White is concerned.

“As much as I love the theater experience and being in front of a big screen, there is something comforting about being in your own home where you can stop and play when you want,” White says. “I love the fact that people have the option of staying home or going out and having the full theater experience.”