Actor Michael B. Jordan is all about using his position in Hollywood to improve outcomes for underrepresented voices.
“I don’t think I fell in love with acting or even thought it could be a real career until ‘The Wire.’ That was like the pivotal moment where I was like, ‘Okay, maybe I can do this,’” Jordan said during an interview with the SAG-AFTRA Foundation.
When Jordan’s time on “The Wire” concluded, he had his first reality check after his character, Wallace, was killed.
“When I got killed off the show I was bawling, crying, and I was like, ‘Oh my God, I’m never going to work again,’ and everybody was like, ‘Look, you’ll be fine, you’ll be good,” Jordan told the SAG-AFTRA Foundation.
The affirmations would manifest ten-fold. Jordan landed his breakthrough role in 2013 when he depicted Oscar Grant in “Fruitvale Station,” a critically acclaimed film directed by Ryan Coogler that details the killing of Grant by police officer Johannes Mehserle.
The film allowed Jordan his first chance to be a lead and validated his confidence as an actor. The world has become further acquainted with his talents through “A Journal For Jordan,” “Just Mercy,” “Black Panther,” and “Creed.”
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Increasing Equity In Hollywood
However, despite all the recognition and success, Jordan understands his impact in the industry isn’t limited to his own work. In 2020, Jordan was named in Time’s 100 list for being “a rising force for equity in Hollywood.” Two years prior to the feat, Jordan requested an “inclusion rider” for any projects associated with him and his production company, ensuring that contractually there would be certain diversity benchmarks in place among a film’s cast and crew.
When asked about the significance of being a driver of change for diversity, Jordan says it has become a natural instinct to spotlight underrepresented groups.
“It’s things that are second nature to me,” Jordan told AfroTech in an interview. “I don’t really think about it as much anymore. It’s one of those things that it’s kind of ingrained in everything that I do. You know what you get when you’re dealing with myself and when it comes to [the] workplace, you have an environment that’s reflective of the world that we all live in.”
He continued, “Finding opportunities to shine lights on stories and people, from biopics to underrepresented voices, stories that need a light shined on them. I try to create a platform and use my place of privilege when it comes to the industry, highlight those things and highlight those communities and those underrepresented voices as much as I can. So that’s always been an initiative for me.”
Supporting Black Founders
Even beyond the realms of Hollywood, Jordan continues to champion this narrative. In 2021, Jordan teamed up with MaC Venture Capital and Serena Williams to launch a startup pitch competition for HBCU founders in partnership with the Invesco QQQ Legacy Classic basketball showcase.
The competition eventually scaled to include all Black founders and crowned Roy Scott’s Healthy Hip Hop as the winner in its second year, AfroTech shared exclusively in February 2023.
“The HBCU classic, we started a few years ago, was a way for me to combine health and wellness and sport and access and opportunity, from small businesses to young entrepreneurs to young Black founders,” Jordan explained. “I just really wanted to create a space that had all the things that I cared about under one roof over a course of a weekend. To be able to teach financial literacy, to help give grants and scholarships to young startups and young students out there. So for me, just trying to do all the things as much as I can. I’m super ambitious. Life is short. You’re on this planet for a short amount of time, so trying to get as much done as I can while I’m here.”
His Next Project
Jordan is laser-focused on stewarding change to ensure there will be better outcomes, which he is also exemplifying through a partnership with Propel Fitness Water.
According to a press release shared with AfroTech, they will work with local fitness organizations, selected by Jordan, dedicated to improving health and wellness as a part of the “Propel Your City Project.”
“I think systemically, health and wellness is something that’s been stripped away from our communities and we didn’t have a lot of access to,” Jordan expressed. “I think initiatives like this and others who are really focused on the core root of the problem, not the systematic issues that we seem to have. We can’t just throw a bandaid on this. You gotta get down to the root of it, and I think that starts with the individual. So, I think programs that allow people to find a sense of self, to really identify what they need as an individual. ‘Cause it’s not a one-size-fits-all. Everybody has a certain need. They learn differently, they progress differently, they exercise differently — different body types, different people. So I think, giving people an opportunity to really identify what they need so they can actually have a plan and a goal for some type of fitness, I think, is really important.”
The “Propel Your City Project” will launch in four cities including Los Angeles, CA (WalkGood LA); Detroit, MI (The Trap Studio); Houston, TX (BLK Beetles); and Atlanta, GA (Atlanta Run Club).
“I think these first four cities that we’re starting out with ‘Propel Your City’ is just the beginning,” he added.
Furthermore, exercisers will have a chance to win $500 that can be applied toward fitness memberships for them and a friend.
To enter, visit @PropelWater.