A Few Steps from Legendary: Michael B. Jordan
by: iman n. milner
The sun is out in Los Angeles, CA as actor Michael B Jordan strolls into a neighborhood barbershop to get ready for his first night out in many months. He walks in and shakes hands with all the familiar faces that congratulate him on his work and patiently waits for his turn in the chair. Dressed cool and laid-back in Nike sweats, Jordan blends in perfectly with the crowd of guys looking to be transformed and shows no expectation of receiving any type of special treatment. In fact he is so humble and pleasant it’s hard to believe he just finished shooting two seasons of the hit NBC show, Friday Night Lights or that he’s been a recognizable face in the industry since his role as Reggie Montgomery on the long running ABC soap opera, All My Children. But anyone who knows him knows also that his humility is not an act. He is not your typical young Hollywood star in the making. Michael B Jordan is an original in a town full of carbon copies and his successes thus far indicate that his future will be nothing short of amazing.
Growing up in Newark, New Jersey, Jordan was into basketball, as were most of the kids in his neighborhood, and though he was immersed in the city he loves, he credits his mother with pushing him to see more. “She wanted me to stay as busy as possible and stay out of the streets as much as I could”, Michael says, “she used to take me over to the city for auditions, go-sees, call-backs, etc…it was her way of showing me more.” And it was in this that he was first introduced to acting as a way of life. Jordan explains it as a ladder of sorts…stepping stones that begun with something he saw as a hobby that has become his career, a very promising one at that. With two major shows under his belt and a new film hitting theaters late this year, Michael is well on his way to being a household name. Having worked in this business along side many different types of entertainers, Jordan has seen first hand how much of a difference hard work and passion can make in ones career. But also knows that with youth many people can forget to lay the proper foundation for a career in Hollywood. Speaking with the wisdom of a veteran performer, he lays out clearly his advice to people looking to venture into this business. “I warn them about what they’re getting themselves into and about the lows and the highs. Everybody sees the names in bright lights, the attention, the magazines and all of that stuff, but they don’t understand the work that goes into actually getting to that point” he explains, “know when you’re sleeping somebody else is up working. That’s how I look at it. I always want to be working more than the next man.”
And work is exactly what he’s been doing. Over the last few months, Michael B Jordan has been filming the NBC show, Friday Night Lights, the spinoff of the like titled film. In the show he plays a young man who he says has become his favorite role to date. His character, Vince, is a juvenile delinquent turned football star but it is his depth as a human being that impresses Michael. “You may think he’s a stereotypical inner city youth…gangs and violence, mom is on drugs, dad isn’t around but he has so much responsibility. He has a lot riding on his shoulders” Jordan says, “it was rewarding to play him and put him in a light that other kids in those situations can look at it and say, ok cool I can make the right decision, it’s very rewarding to play someone that other people can look up to”. One cannot help but think that possibly Jordan’s affinity towards Vince is the thing they share in common: the gift and curse of being blessed with an undeniable talent. At 23 years old, he is able to say that he is truly living his dreams and reaping the benefits of an outstanding work ethic; especially in a field that Jordan himself admits can be daunting at times. But with the success comes the trials that most people never get to see. “The loneliness starts to kick in when you’re always traveling and you’re not around your family, I really take family seriously—so that’s the hardest thing for me”, Michael says.
And his crazy lifestyle doesn’t only affect his time with his family; it also affects his ability to settle down with a special someone. Admitting to having somewhat of an “old school” view of what a relationship should be between a man and a woman, Jordan finds it difficult to commit to something while he’s constantly on the run. “A woman has to be very understanding of what I do, the situation is not the average. A lot of times it’s the X factor. It’s the deal breaker in a lot of situations like everything can be perfect but this damn industry”, he admits with a laugh, “it’s not easy”. Jordan is honest when explaining that some of it is also his willingness to take a chance that he may not be completely ready for at this time in his life. “I’m young right now. Me and my friends, we aren’t dogs but we enjoy ourselves”, he says with a smile, “we’re enjoying all that life has to offer right now”. But Michael has no reservations when it comes to knowing exactly what he’s looking for in that special woman. He insists that he focuses more on details than the bigger picture when picking out perspective lady friends saying, “just like women look at guys like they’re all the same sometimes men look at women the same way. So it’s the little things that set you apart and go a long way, at least with me. She has to have a good sense of humor and she can’t be afraid to change and try new things—and I’ve got to be able to trust her”. Trust is something that Michael admits means more to him after having had his heart broken, something that he confesses to when asked had he ever been in love. But Jordan doesn’t seem to have been jaded by that experience although it helped him to loosely define love as “unconditional”. He goes on later to admit, “it’s a very hard thing to define” but says, “it’s when you genuinely care about someone flaws and all. You don’t judge.” Michael does however believe that love over time has shifted into something much different than it used to be and that men have aided most in changing the definition. “Most relationships end when the guy messes up, it’s the dude who’s always got that primitive instinct in the back of his mind like ‘I need something new’ and he can LOVE whoever he’s with—the urge is always gonna be there it’s whether or not I’ll be man enough to ignore it”, he says.
But at this moment, Michael B Jordan is simply one of the guys. He’s not playing a role. He’s not trying to find Mrs. Right. He’s the self proclaimed “full time day dreamer” who’s constantly thinking of his next move. He’s the secret chef who one day plans to own a restaurant where he stops in to cook the special for the night. He’s the New Jersey native who’s mother showed him an alternative to the over saturated playground. He’s the man who doesn’t know if he’ll ever slow down enough to be married. He’s the handsome, talented kid you double take at on the street because you know you’ve “seen him somewhere before”. He’s a lot of things in this moment but one thing he’ll never be is forgettable because he is quite simply too special to overlook. He’s one of a kind even here in this barbershop on a sunny day in Los Angeles and though he may not show it…we’re certain that he knows
Photos By: Ashley B. Nguyen