It’s late November and Michael B. Jordan is preparing to head overseas. He leaves on Thanksgiving for an international leg of press for his film “Creed II.” His travels were going to take him to places like London and Africa. Then his schedule had him diving into award season here in the states. March, he said, would bring a breather.
Hard work has, of course, never scared Jordan.
Born in California, he was raised in Newark, New Jersey, with his older sister and younger brother among self-described humble beginnings.
He loved books and “Dragon Ball Z,” especially Goku.
His parents loved knowledge and were tenacious, working multiple jobs.
A recognizable talent since his breakout TV role on HBO’s “The Wire,” Jordan says he got his “motor” from them.
It makes sense, of course, why Jordan, thoughtful and focused in person, has become the man filmmakers turn to for roles that demand things of an actor — be they physical, mental or both.
In “Black Panther,” he plays antagonist Killmonger, who seeks to overthrow his cousin T’Challa to become ruler of Wakanda.
Jordan not only physically pushed himself to embody the imposing figure but occupied a mental space that challenged his own limits.
“[Killmonger] was a really lonely guy. I just spent a lot of time by myself, isolated, didn’t speak that much to my family for a while,” Jordan says.
For every character, Jordan also creates a journal filled with backstory not found in the script pages. This process, he explains, helps him stay on track and provides subtext to fuel his performances.
It’s a level of discipline and work that you don’t often find in actors twice his age. But at 31, Jordan seems to have no interest in the status quo. In fact, he’s actively working to change how business is done in Hollywood.
Last year, his production company, Outlier Society Productions, adopted an inclusion rider, which is a contract clause that requires filmmakers to employ a diverse cast and crew.
Months later, Jordan helped Warner Bros. write and adopt its own policy, which will be put into practice on an upcoming legal drama he’s producing with the company. (CNN, like Warner Bros., is owned by WarnerMedia.)
“It was a milestone victory for everyone,” Jordan said. “It’s the first step of many steps, but in the right direction.”
As he’s proved with his acting roles, Jordan is willing to put in the work.
“Hopefully, it will set a precedent going across the board, that other studios and other producers and other production companies will follow that lead and continue to make strides towards change.”