Who Is Michael B. Jordan?
Michael B. Jordan began his career as a model and actor, and his first significant break was an appearance on The Sopranos in 1999. He later landed major roles in landmark TV shows like The Wire and Friday Night Lights. Jordan garnered acclaim for his role in the film festival favorite Fruitvale Station (2013) and for his role as a boxing protégé in 2015's Creed. He returned to the big screen in early 2018 in the wildly successful Marvel superhero flick Black Panther.
Early Life and Career
Michael Bakari Jordan was born on February 9, 1987, in Santa Ana, California. The son of a caterer and a high school guidance counselor, Jordan moved when he was 2 with his parents to Newark, New Jersey, where he spent the remainder of his childhood.
Newark could be a tough place to grow up; in a later interview, Jordan admitted to having friends who sold drugs and stole cars. The future actor stayed above the fray, and with the encouragement of his parents, he began modeling for newspaper ads at the age of 10.
Along the way, he also auditioned for commercials and TV shows. His first break came when he landed a small role on the Bill Cosby sitcom, Cosby. Other minor parts followed, and in 1999 he made an appearance in The Sopranos.
TV and Movies
'Hardball,' 'The Wire'
It was the 2001 movie Hardball, however, that raised the young actor’s profile. Starring Keanu Reeves and Diane Lane, the film tells the story of an inner-city baseball team. Jordan landed a principal role and his performance put him on the radar screen of the creators of the TV series The Wire. Jordan’s time on the landmark show lasted just one season, but his riveting portrayal of the caring, soft-spoken Wallace ended his struggles to find consistent television and film work.
'All My Children'
In 2003, Jordan was tapped as a regular cast member on the soap opera All My Children. During his three-year stint on the show, Jordan netted three NAACP Image Awards for Outstanding Actor in a Daytime Drama Series. He also earned a Soap Opera Digest Award nomination for Favorite Teen.
After leaving the soap in 2006, Jordan stayed busy. He landed a role in the indie film Blackout (2007) and made appearances in a host of television shows, including Law & Order: Criminal Intent, CSI, and Cold Case, among others.
'Friday Night Lights'
Jordan's next significant break came in 2009 when he was cast to play star quarterback Vince Howard in the Emmy-winning series Friday Night Lights. Jordan’s performance wowed fans of the series and served notice to critics that he was an actor to keep an eye on.
Jordan delivered again with a recurring role in the TV series Parenthood, and received mountains of critical praise for his 2013 performance in the Ryan Coogler-directed feature Fruitvale Station. The film, based on a true story, saw Jordan play the starring role of Oscar Grant, a 22-year-old African American man killed by police while at an Oakland, California, subway station.
His film work has also included roles in Red Tails (2012), The Chronicle (2012), That Awkward Moment (2014) and as the Human Torch in the widely panned Fantastic Four (2015).
In late 2015, Jordan teamed up again with director Coogler for the latest chapter of Sylvester Stallone's long-running Rocky franchise, Creed. He played boxer Adonis Johnson, the unknown son of Rocky’s late rival and friend, Apollo Creed. For the film, Jordan, an accomplished high school athlete, trained vigorously. He spent more than a year preparing for the role, training with boxers and embarking on a strict diet.
Upon its release, Oscar talk immediately began to swirl around the film, cementing Jordan’s status as a Hollywood star. Still, the actor set his eyes on expanding his career even further: “I want to make that move from actor to producer, like Will Smith,” he said.
Jordan stepped back into the ring for Creed II (2018), which pitted Adonis Johnson against the son of Dolph Lungren's Ivan Drago — the massive Russian boxer who pummeled Apollo Creed to death in 1985's Rocky IV.
Following a hiatus from the screen, Jordan returned for the Marvel superhero feature Black Panther, playing arch-villain Erik Killmonger to Chadwick Boseman's titular superhero. The film was a resounding success, pushing $1 billion in global ticket sales within three weeks of its February 2018 release, and shattering stereotypes about the limits of marketing a mostly Black cast.
In the wake of the flick's impressive debut — and Frances McDormand's attention-grabbing Oscar speech on the subject — Jordan announced in an Instagram post that he would include inclusion riders for all projects made by his production company, Outlier Society. An inclusion rider is a clause that allows actors to contractually demand diversity among the cast and crew on set.
In May 2018, Jordan starred in an adaptation of the Ray Bradbury classic Fahrenheit 451, a film that drew mostly tepid reviews. The outcome didn't dim the ambitions of the actor, who announced he would make his directing debut with an adaptation of the novel The Stars Beneath Our Feet, and produce the World War II drama Liberators, about the all-African American 761st Tank Battalion.
Jordan was next seen on the big screen in Just Mercy (2019), as acclaimed civil rights lawyer Bryan Stevenson. Also featuring notable performances by Jaime Foxx and Brie Larson, the film is based on the true story of a case early in Stevenson's career, when he successfully appealed the conviction of an African American man for the 1986 murder of a young white woman in Alabama.
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