Michael B. Jordan

Tue Dec 10,2013

Actor Michael B. Jordan has starred in popular television dramas (The Wire, Friday Night Lights), is making regular appearances in ‘Actors to Watch’ lists and wants to try and build a career that balances working in films with a message, such as FRUITVALE STATION, along with the big films such as CHRONICLE. We caught up with the 26-year-old ahead of his film’s gala screening last night.

You’ve made a pretty impressive leap from television to film. In today’s world of entertainment, where the lines between film and television crisscross, do you see yourself ever returning to TV?

Michael B. Jordan: Listen, the internet changed everything. The lines between film and television are going back and forth. The scripts and pace on TV are sometimes more interesting than in film, and you see a lot of actors working in TV to satisfy their creative itch, their hunger. If the right show came my way, I’d go back. It’s where I started and eventually I would love to produce great TV.

Through a film such as FRUITVALE STATION, non-Americans particularly, are reminded of the reality of race relations in the United States. Even though the country has elected its first African-American president and there are plenty of powerful and successful African-Americans in the arts and entertainment, there’s still incidents like Oscar Grant or Trayvon Martin… How can film help better that reality?

MBJ: Cinema is so important to storytelling and understanding people’s perspectives. I always believe in hiding the medicine in the food, or in this case hiding a message in a film or art can help people receive it better. A hard-hitting documentary, even if it’s real, might not be easy to digest, but a fiction film has the potential to reach out to a larger audience, I think. It’s really all about getting people to treat people who are different from you, without judging.

How would you describe the reality of race relations in the United States today?

MBJ: The reality, well, that’s a loaded question. Here’s the thing, I say black. So black president, black cast, black people. There’s always going to be racism. It’s not going anywhere.

Ever?

MBJ: Ever. One can only hope that incidents like Oscar Grant, or Trayvon Martin don’t happen. We need, as a society, to value our own lives. Black on black violence needs to reduce and it’s only through film and art that we can chip away on our thinking habits. My job, I believe is to try and make things easier.

The Middle East and its people, in the wake of 9/11, have had and continue to experience racial profiling. What would you say to young men and women from the region on dealing with stereotyping?

MBJ: On being different? It’s unfortunate that people are ignorant. I wish I could give them a single solution, but the truth is there isn’t any one thing. You can’t change who you are. You shouldn’t. You can’t change the colour of your skin. (long pause). Don’t let it affect your spirit. Keep your heart pure and everything will work itself out. I realise it’s easier said than done, but you have to understand that it’s the actions of a few that are creating these stereotypes. That’s unfortunate, but you can’t be bitter about it. If you handle it wrong as an individual, then your actions are setting an entire group of people behind.

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