‘It’s tough being a Black man in America’ Michael B. Jordan on going from broke to ‘Black Panther’

Michael B. Jordan thegrio.com
SEOUL, SOUTH KOREA - FEBRUARY 05: Actor Michael B. Jordan attends the press conference for the Seoul premiere of 'Black Panther' on February 5, 2018 in Seoul, South Korea. (Photo by Han Myung-Gu/Getty Images for Disney)

Michael B. Jordan is living the Hollywood dream—but the road wasn’t always easy

A kid who started from the bottom, straight out of Newark, New Jersey, has now become one of the biggest stars shining in Hollywood thanks to the success of Black Panther. But there’s a lot of survivor’s guilt that he carries along with his accolades.

In a new cover interview with British GQ, Jordan tells Kevin Powell about his life before the lights and glitz and how he never gave up hope even in the midst of being broke.

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“I came by myself for the first six months. One of my best friends moved out with me a little bit after that. It was tough,” Michael B. Jordan recalls in the interview. “Sleeping on my boy’s couch, staying with friends, I was blessed to really have a lot of friends in LA.

Jordan tells Powell that he couldn’t give up on his acting dream.

“I was working but I wasn’t working enough. I would doubt and hope and get nervous. Right when I was getting ready to give up there was something that would keep me there for a little bit longer,” he said. I remember one of my friends, Sterling [MTV host Steelo Brim], and I used to go to [fast-food chain] Jack In The Box. We were so broke. We tried to fill out job applications to work there after The Wire. We were overqualified.”

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Michael B. Jordan, who plays Black Panther’s nemesis Killmonger, said his friends helped him keep the faith and ultimately his breakthrough came when he he was 21 and auditioned for Red Tails.

“I went to Anthony Hemingway’s house. I went for Thanksgiving dinner. I knew he was up [to direct] this movie Red Tails, with George Lucas producing. He told me he was going to get me an audition. In my head, I was like, “Hopefully, it’s going to work.” That was the job that gave me enough money to stay in Los Angeles. I remember all of us over his house: me, Nate Parker, David Oyelowo, Elijah Kelley, Tristan Wilds, Leslie Odom Jr.


Seeing the vision

Jordan also told GQ that even though he’s now doing what he loves, he doesn’t forget his humble beginnings.

“People see the end results. They see the lights, the premiere, the movie. They don’t see the time that you put in by yourself, the lonely journey,” he said. “They don’t see the moments you sleep in your car. They don’t see the moment when you have to go into a gas station, swipe your card to pay then hurry up and go in the convenience store and get chips and frozen pizza before your card gets declined because you don’t have that much money in your account. But somehow you still have faith that you are doing what you’re supposed to be doing. When you get some success you get ridiculed and judged by everybody, most of the time by your own people: “You’re not this, you’re not that, you’re not doing as much as possible.”

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It’s tough. Being a black man in America, you have a systemic oppression that’s there. A system that’s put in place that’s always constantly ripping you down, [saying] that you’re not good enough. It’s tough being a black man in America. It comes with a lot. So, it’s why I have chosen to do what I do, because it’s a weight I’m willing and able to bear. I’m still trying to figure this shit out.”

Jordan and Coogler team up again

Michael B. Jordan is certainly on a roll now. After destroying the global boxoffice opening weekend with the release of Black Panther, Jordan and director Ryan Coogler will team up again for a new movie about education.

Tackling the 2009 Atlanta schools testing scandal, one of the most infamous school cheating scandals in the country, the movie titled, Wrong Answer will be directed by Coogler.

And the script for Wrong Answer is being written by celebrated author Ta-Nehisi Coates.

Making history is clearly what this dynamic duo likes to do. This new film will be Jordan and Coogler’s fourth project together after working on Black Panther, Fruitvale Station and Creed. And they’re not done. According to the Source, Jordan and Coolger plan joining forces once again to make a movie about Mansa Musa, a very influential African ruler and emperor of the Mali Empire during the fourteenth century.

The March issue of British GQ featuring Michael B. Jordan on the cover is on newsstands now.