Michael B Jordan, Jamie Foxx, and Bryan Stevenson cover the new issue of Variety to promote the upcoming film Just Mercy based on Bryan’s work with the Equal Justice Initiative, a non-profit based in Alabama that “challenges poverty and racial injustice, advocates for equal treatment in the criminal justice system, and creates hope for marginalised communities”. The film tells the true story of Bryan (played by MBJ) and death row inmate Walter “Johnny D” McMillan (played by Jamie) who was wrongly convicted of murdering a white woman even though multiple witnesses saw and interacted with him at a church event in the park at the time of the crime.
I was a mess after I saw Just Mercy at an advance screening for press ahead of TIFF and this is not usually how I process emotions. But I sobbed – like shoulders heaving, holding my stomach – halfway through the film and later, when the film was over, I was the first to leave the theatre and when the studio reps asked me what I thought, I told them I couldn’t talk and ran to the bathroom to cry some more. I still feel raw when I think back to it.
There are some critics, however, who weren’t as moved, who think Just Mercy isn’t bringing anything fresh to the table – and that’s fair. But it’s not the position of this site. Sarah reviewed the film at TIFF for LaineyGossip; she wrote that Just Mercy is “meant to be shared” – the point being, see it in theatres or watch with other people, so you can weep together and then talk about it after. That too is the purpose of film: conversation, community, understanding.
As for the team behind Just Mercy and their Variety interview, there’s a lot going on here that’s more than just what you see onscreen. Michael B Jordan produced the film and this feature is “the first major studio film to adopt the idea of an inclusion rider, a contractual provision that mandates women, people of color, members of the LGBTQ community and other underrepresented groups be considered for key on-screen and behind-the-scenes jobs”. MBJ was an early adopter of the inclusion rider, after Frances McDormand’s speech at the Oscars, and in addition to pledging to adhere to the principle in all his projects, he lobbied Warner Media to make it a company-wide standard. Well that’s sexy. Click here to read Variety’s cover story about Just Mercy. They’re trying to make an award season run with this film. Joanna’s already written about how Jamie Foxx has been out here hustling for a Best Supporting Actor nomination and it looks like we have a lot of strong contenders this year across all categories in a shortened season. That’s why everyone’s campaigning so early.
While we’re on the subject of sexy… you know what else is sexy?
MBJ baking. Did you watch his IG stories last night?!? He celebrated the start of the NBA season, watching the Raptors game and the Lakers and Clippers, by baking chocolate chip cookies. This hits me in all the right places:
I am an amateur baker. I’m not saying I’m good, but I do love it. Baking is my meditation. I love the science of it. I love thinking through it. I love how precise it is because this is my personality unlike, say, Duana who bakes, sure, but she’s such a contrarian, she’s more into cooking because you can freestyle a spice here and there or load up on one ingredient and skip the other. Baking doesn’t allow for as much freestyle because of the whole chemistry thing. Which is what calms me about it – the recipe has done all the thinking for you. Like MBJ, I’m a messy baker. There are some people who bake on social media and they make it so neat and pretty and clean. Who are these people? They are frauds.
Next – the Raptors, obviously, and MBJ’s Raptors debate mid-bake.
And finally… he’s baking in a cut-off shirt and those arms and that face and that voice and that joy, how is this not your new sexuality and self-care? That’s what I’m doing this weekend. I’m going to bake while watching MBJ bake and it’ll make the world go away.