Eight months after his split from Lori Harvey, and just weeks after news broke of the relationship between her and Damson Idris, Michael B Jordan is doing good, and he’s taking his career to new heights. Between making his directorial debut with his latest film, Creed III, and hosting SNL, MBJ has a lot to celebrate.
This morning, in an interview with CBS, he revealed just how cathartic his role in Creed has been for him, and how many parallels there are between him and his character, Adonis Creed, particularly in the latest installment.
“Shedding my old self. It’s one of the themes in the movie as well. Owning and deserving and feeling like you deserve the blessings you have,” he told Gayle King. "I put myself in a position where I had to sink or swim. I had to run towards that— my past, my inner demons, my insecurities, my fears. And I tried to put a mirror up to that throughout this movie."
He also spoke about the technicalities of stepping into a director role. He described the types of cameras used, how he had to be mindful of things like lighting and shots and wanting to be intentional about shooting boxing in a way we haven’t seen it filmed before. If the teaser scenes of him and co-star Jonathan Majors are any indication, he did the job.
On Monday, he was out on the town with Jonathan. They were at the premiere of Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantumania, where Jonathan told media outlets that Michael is his “best buddy”.
"We have a very amicable relationship, that's my best buddy," Jonathan said. "We support each other on a day to day, so, if it's Marvel, it's Marvel that day, if it's girl troubles, it's girl troubles that day — whatever, whatever. He's my brother."
Last month, I wrote about the importance of Nia Long leaning on her friendships for support as she, too, endured a very public split (and cheating scandal) and stepped behind the camera for a project she has in the works. So it’s interesting to see another Black star, this time a man, lean on his friends and also make his directorial debut.
Just as much as it is interesting, though, it’s a bit of a relief, too. Statistics paint a grim picture for American men when it comes to friendships. Findings from the National American Survey Center revealed the number of close friends Americans have has plummeted in the last 30 years – and this “friendship recession” has hit men particularly hard.
According to the survey, the percentage of men with at least six close friends fell from 55% to 27% since 1990. The study also found the percentage of men without any close friends increased fivefold from 3% to 15%. And unfortunately for Michael, who, unlike Lori, remains uncoupled (as far as we know), the survey says single men fare the worst. One in five unmarried American men who are not in a romantic relationship report not having any close friends.
The first reason all of this matters is because people who receive regular emotional support from their friends - like Michael does when he and Jonathan talk about “girl troubles” - are far less likely to report feelings of anxiety or loneliness. But the second reason this matters is because one of the explanations behind men’s inability to build and maintain healthy friendships is that, compared to women, men express more discomfort sharing their feelings, expressing vulnerability, or asking for emotional support from their friends. Despite the tide changing, younger men have been shown to struggle the most with establishing social bonds.
Personally, I love the range of Michael B. Jordan, the Hollywood heartthrob who plays a super tough boxer on screen, flexing a different muscle, being soft and vulnerable with his guy friends. We know that breakup was painful for him. Losing Lori would be painful for anyone. But through his work and his friendships, he is finding that there is life and light after that.
"I'm a firm believer in: what's for you is for you," Jordan said about his split with Lori. "And coming out of that situation, not to give it any energy and kind of move from that is, you know, it was an experience for me to grow and learn."
This past weekend, he hosted an afterparty for his second annual Invesco QQQ Legacy Classic, where he spent time with pals Terrence J. and boxer Shakur Stevenson. He was seen taking shots and practicing his boxing ring form with Shakur. Sources overheard him expressing his pride in his Legacy team.
The initiative, he told CBS, is to “level the playing field.” It’s a basketball showcase that gives students and athletes from HBCUs a chance to display their skills and talents on televised games. He discussed plans to expand the program by adding more college scouts and sponsors.
Black friendships are unique in that they become one of the very limited safe spaces for us to discuss everything from microaggressions at work to exchanging culturally relevant information, ideas and dialogue. These are not things we can share with the same honesty and candor in our other friendships due to the lack of shared lived experience and relatability. But also, it can be just as uncomfortable for Black people to talk about instances of racism and microaggressions to a non-Black person as it is when non-Black people have to hear about it.
When you think about how being a celebrity can add nuance to these relationships, having friendships becomes even more important. For people who are as famous as he is, there’s so much to learn about negotiating contracts, signing deals, managing all the new money and in Michael’s case, how to cope with your personal life becoming sensationalized.
It’s one of the reasons mentorship plays such a major role in Black culture – and in this phase of his career. MBJ shared his appreciation for Ryan Coogler’s work. The two have worked together on many projects, and Creed III was another opportunity to collaborate.
Beyond them, though, Queen Latifah took the prejudice she faced as a woman of colour in the industry and turned it into a mission to help uplift other women of colour in Hollywood. Her project, The Queen Collective, helps women find financing to make and distribute their films. Then there is Jonathan Majors and his new Sidney Poitier Initiative to support emerging Black and marginalized creatives. And who could forget that Denzel Washington silently covered the cost of the legendary Chadwick Boseman to attend an acting program at England’s Oxford University?
This is why the work MBJ is doing with the Legacy Classic will make such a profound impact for young, Black athletes; he understands the struggle in getting recognition and is working to address that.
It is so nice to see him elevating after what had to have been a rough time for him. Channeling all of that energy and putting it into his career, hosting SNL (and even making light of his split while doing so), making his directorial debut and most importantly, giving back, must be healing. But not nearly as healing as finding your tribe and your purpose, which it appears he has.