Michael B. Jordan got his big break in the 2013 biopic Fruitvale Station, a Ryan Coogler film about Oscar Grant III, a black man killed by Oakland Police officers in 2009. Coogler took a chance on Jordan, who at the time was mostly a TV actor with roles in hit dramas like Parenthood and Friday Night Lights.
And that’s what he hopes to be able to do for other up-and-coming actors of diverse backgrounds, through his production company Outlier Society. The California native opened up about his commitment to diversity and inclusion in Hollywood while at the Produced By conference where he spoke as part of the “Content With a Conscience: Social Impact Entertainment Across All Platforms” panel on Saturday.
According to IndieWire, Jordan shared that since his role in Fruitvale Station, “[it seems like] every historical black figure has come across my desk.” Though not a negative thing, the Black Panther star is aware that there are many other up-and-coming actors of color that could use that opportunity.
He added, “As much as I’d love to play them all, I can’t.”
Even as a kid growing up in Santa Ana, he recognized that not a lot of people on the big and small screen represented him or his community. Now, he can help change the media landscape and the content that gets released out into the world. He can now do for others what Coogler did for him. And hopefully, Hollywood will continue to evolve and understand why offering every historical black figure to one actor was short-sided.
Alana Mayo, president of development and production for Outlier Society, joined Jordan on the panel where she opened up about the importance of balancing entertainment and being socially conscious through their storytelling.
“We struggle with the happy, mindless entertainment that doesn’t feel like it has some sort of substance to it,” she said. “And sometimes we just want to hit an issue that I think the both of us will continue to make content about, until we feel like we start to see the impact and the change in the real world.”
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