Susan Watanabe, TV writer and wife of SAG-AFTRA’s David White, dies at 49


Susan Watanabe, a television writer and the wife of SAG-AFTRA National Executive Director David White, has died. She was 49.

Watanabe died Sunday of a brain tumor, according to the guild.

As a TV writer, Watanabe contributed to the UPN series “One on One” and “Girlfriends,” the latter of which also aired on the CW Television Network. She also worked as a strategist supporting the candidacies of numerous Los Angeles City Council members, as well as African American candidates in the Midwest and South.

Born in Chicago in 1968, Watanabe attended Whitney M. Young Magnet High School and later attended the University of Illinois. She earned a graduate degree from the University of Chicago School of Social Service Administration, where she was elected president of the student union.


She was also well-known in L.A. for her support and fundraising for progressive candidates and causes, new authors, young professionals and community groups.

Watanabe married White in 2000. White was named national executive director of the Screen Actors Guild in 2009. The union, which represents approximately 160,000 screen actors and media professionals, merged with AFTRA three years later.

In addition to her husband, her survivors include their 9-year-old daughter, Sophia; her parents Don and Ida Watanabe; and brother Scott.

A memorial service has been set for Sept. 15 at Forest Lawn Memorial-Park Hollywood Hills. In lieu of flowers, the family requests donations to Susan’s Circle, a foundation established by friends in her name and housed within the Liberty Hill Foundation.