During a candid discussion with “Insecure” creator and star Issa Rae as part of Variety’s “Actors on Actors” series, Michael B. Jordan revealed a career-altering decision he made years ago while making Ryan Coogler’s “Fruitvale Station.” The young actor told his agents at WME that he would only audition for roles written for white actors moving forward.
“Right around the time ‘Fruitvale Station’ went down, I told my agents I didn’t want to go out for any roles written for African Americans,” Jordan said. “I didn’t want it. I wanted only white men. That’s it. That’s all I want to do. Me playing that role is going to make it what it is. I don’t want any pre-bias on the character…Writers write what they know, what they think encounters with us would be, and that’s slight bias.”
One example Jordan brought up in which he benefitted for going for white roles is “Chronicle,” the found-footage superhero movie directed by Josh Trank. The actor explained the character in the script was a white teenager named Steve Krasinsky. Jordan auditioned for the part and impressed Trank and company so much they cast him and changed the character’s name to Steve Montgomery.
“I wanted to go out for these roles because it was just playing people,” Jordan said. “It didn’t have to be like, ‘You’re playing the black guy in this.’ And everybody would be going out for the same role. Every young black actor from ages 17 to 40 going out for the same role. How do you reverse engineer that problem of pitted competition with each other and give more opportunities to eat and be successful?”
Jordan said his team WME gave him no pushback and encouraged him to go for any role he wanted. “Nobody stopped me,” he concluded. “Everybody believed in me as much as I believed in myself. That was really important for that happening. I got no pushback whatsoever. Everybody pushed for it.”
The actor most recently appeared in the HBO adaptation of “Fahrenheit 451” and as villain Erik Killmonger in “Black Panther.” Jordan is currently in production on “Creed II,” which has a November 21 release date. You can watch Jordan’s full sit-down with Rae in the video below.