I posted briefly about Michael B Jordan on the cover of Rolling Stone the other day and it was mostly about the visual. As spectacular as the photos are though, the piece itself is that much better. Michael B Jordan has been acting for 20 years, famous for nearly half that time, and just as he’s about to make his directorial debut with Creed III, Carvell Wallace has written the definitive profile of MBJ, the movie star, the director, the producer, the son, brother, friend – in other words, the person. And also what this person means not only to the industry but to his community.
Which is pressure! Pressure for both Carvell and MBJ. But that too is part of the story. I don’t want to excerpt too much because the article really should be read in its entirety but here’s how Carvell describes MBJ’s appeal and significance:
“Jordan’s stock in trade is in making you feel both in love with and protective of Black men, in showcasing our humanity, complexity, and beauty.”
That’s a compliment, obviously, but when you’re just one person having to hold up all those values, how does that inform the way you live your life, the way you work, the choices you make, the choices you don’t make. One of the takeaways from this profile of Michael B Jordan is that he is CARRYING all of it. And Carvell makes that clear – this man is “locked in” all the time, he is constantly pushing, he does not know how to relax, how to gear down… because he doesn’t want to, because he doesn’t feel he can?
Carvell writes so empathetically about the weight that MBJ has voluntarily taken on, not unlike the weight that other Black leaders have taken on – and why in their case it’s more than just trying to reach full potential. Which is what MBJ says he fears most: “not reaching my full potential”.
As Carvell articulates so beautifully, Black people understand that the ability to reach “potential” is not guaranteed. In Fruitvale Station, directed by Ryan Coogler, MBJ played Oscar Grant, who was killed by a transit cop in Oakland. Oscar Grant had potential, but Oscar Grant did not have the opportunity to explore it. And Oscar is not the only example. There are SO many tragic examples. Per Carvell:
“In some sense this is what Michael B. Jordan sees himself as, why he pushes himself so hard: the potential of all those millions of Black kids who never got a chance.”
All of this, and more, is what MBJ seems to be channeling in the role of Adonis Creed and in the film that he’s directed, Creed III, as he weaves together the threads that connect this character with some of his previous ones…and also his own experience:
“So this is what Adonis is the most current iteration of. He is Black in the world. He has to work through the aftereffects of what Killmonger was fighting for, and how Oscar wasn’t seen or respected. Adonis is trying to start a family, and dealing with childhood trauma, not knowing how to talk and not knowing how to express himself. Not knowing why he feels less, why doesn’t he feel worthy.”
And all while making it an entertaining boxing movie. Clearly, then, Michael B Jordan does not f-ck around with ambition. Might as well take all that pressure and really swing for it. That’s what he put into Creed III.
So here he is, in London last night for the premiere, wearing the sh-t out of this black suit, flashing that movie star smile, pure charisma and magnetism… while underneath it all, as we’ve learned from this Rolling Stone profile, there’s so much more going on.