The breakout 'Black Panther' star talks success, the future and the famous athlete with whom he shares a name.
Michael B. Jordan knows it's his time.
In an interview with Men's Health magazine, Jordan talks about his rise as an actor with a bit role on The Sopranos to increasingly higher-profile work on The Wire, in Creed and, of course, mega-stardom after his breakout role in Black Panther, and other issues such as activism, work ethic and, of course, sharing a name with one of the most famous athletes to walk the earth.
“I never met Michael Jordan," Jordan confesses. "I never want to officially meet him until I’m at a point where he knows who I am and I know who he is. And it would be our mutual respect thing. Until then it would just be a ‘this guy has your name, ha ha.’ I don’t want that. So that pushes me to keep working too. These things motivate me.”
And like the legendary basketball player, who was known as a relentless competitor, Jordan, the actor, says a little of that namesake stuck with him.
“I’m competitive. I want to compete in anything I do. That came from my name," he says. "Growing up in sports and having a name like Michael Jordan and being teased, I had to compete. I couldn’t be the guy with the name and not be good at it. That carried over to everything. I’m like, I’ve got to be just as great if not greater than he was in his field.”
After his critically acclaimed role as the villain Erik Killmonger in Black Panther, he's off to a great start. Next up for him is a role in an HBO production of Ray Bradbury's dystopian classic, Fahrenheit 451, which premieres May 19. A role, it should be noted, he was hesitant to take.
“I was cautious. I wasn’t exactly sure if I wanted to play an authority figure due to the relationship between my community and the police. I wasn’t sure if I wanted to play that character," he tells the magazine. "But once I got into the book, heard what [director] Ramin [Bahrani] envisioned, and understood what he wanted to say, then it was like, ‘I got it. I want to be a part of it.’”
That social consciousness is an important part of Jordan's life. Just last month, he announced that his production company would use inclusion riders for all future projects, which promise to have racial and gender equality on sets. In his latest interview, he said that the time appears right for these efforts to finally "stick."
“Technology has a lot to do with it. It’s easier for people to unite, stand behind one another. No matter what your field is, whether it’s gender equality, the Time’s Up movement, or diversity casting, it’s always going to be a back-and-forth battle," he says. "But this time it does feel different. Sometimes you need to have the same conversation over and over until it sticks. Maybe this is the time it starts to stick.”
As for his future? Jordan provides some introspection.
“Life is short, you know? I want to leave something behind," he says. "A blueprint. A work ethic. Something that my great-grandkids and their kids and their kids can see: This is where it started. Lineage. Intergenerational wealth. Things that are here forever. All that.”
The full interview with Jordan appears in the May issue of Men's Health, on newsstands April 17.
For more on Jordan, watch the video below.
'Black Panther': New Trailer Shows Michael B. Jordan and Chadwick Boseman at Their Absolute Best -- Watch!