Michael Bakari Jordan
To Michael B. Jordan, family, food, and leaving a mark on the world are most important.
While to the rest of the world he is Michael Bakari Jordan, famous for roles in Black Panther & Fahrenheit 451, his friends call him Mike.
Tell us where you lived before moving to Los Angeles.
I moved to Los Angeles when he was 19 years old and to try my luck and convert my teenage acting career into a remarkable one. Before that, I lived in a rough part of Newark, and living there taught me a lot about life.
I am still very much an East Coast boy at heart. Growing up on the East Coast, going to Manhattan, gives you a sense of how to live your life. To hustle. To become a go-getter.
How has life been since then?
It has been working fine. In 2013, after a couple of teenage roles in The Wire & Friday Night Lights, I was showered with acclaim for the way I acted in the Fruitvale Station movie. Re-creating the last day in the life of Oscar Grant, was an eye-opening experience. I have appeared in the reimagined Fantastic Four.
Starring in Black Panther, Fahrenheit 451, and Creed II, have really challenged my acting skills and they have been great for me personally.
Have you faced discrimination while working?
It is a harsh reality that even in the 21st century, racial discrimination is within the bounds. There are several things that a successful black man endures as he tries to traverse this unfair world. I am from New Jersey and I love real people. I have struggled a lot in life from sleeping in the kitchen during the winters to stay warm. So, yes, I have struggled to get where I am.
I love telling the experience of being a Black male in the USA. Instead of going back into the past, I want to tell the stories from a modern perspective to show where we are today and where we have to go from there.
When it comes to the characters of African-American characters in the industry, there is a huge gap between the old school and new school actors. I don’t think there are enough people my age making a mark.
We still live in a world where there are stereotypes – we all have seen stereotypical black roles of drug dealers or thugs, etc. I feel the world is wide and we can explore things so much better, as we did in the Black Panther.
When you were thinking about Fahrenheit 451, what was going through your mind?
You will be surprised to know that moral misgivings nearly made me turn down the leading actor role in Fahrenheit 451 of a book-burning fireman who hunts down underground freethinkers.
The role of Montag, weighed on me heavily, especially with current social debates about the use of excessive police force, treatment of minorities, etc. During my analysis of Fahrenheit 451 essay and script, I was hesitant about taking this project on because of the authoritarian nature of the role. I wasn’t interested in taking on the role of an oppressor in the film.
However, as we all know, the story turns when Montag has the sudden curiosity to see what is inside the books that people are willing to die for. This crisis of conscience of Montag is what assuaged by unease about the role.
The overall message given by the movie was bigger than me and my reservations. It is a really powerful piece of art and the movie has done so much good out in the world – I am happy that I chose to work on this project.
What are your thoughts about Black Panther 2?
Black Panther is something that is very near to my heart. I had a tough year, having lost someone who was very close to me. Being in the Black Panther world, playing a character that I love, working with my fellows there, I would love that.
We created a family working on Black Panther. I learned so much and made wonderful memories working on the film. To be in that world again is something that I will always be open to.