Michael B. Jordan Says He Only Wants The Roles Written For White Men

Michael B. Jordan has become one of the most sought-after actors in Hollywood.  The 31-year-old Santa Ana, California native played “Kilmonger” in this year’s Black Panther. He is reprising his role as “Adonis ‘Donnie’ Johnson Creed in the upcoming November Creed sequel. Five years ago, Jordan played the real-life Oscar Grant in Fruitvale Station. Ahead of film, Jordan played corner-boy “Wallace” in The Wire, with prominent roles on Friday Night Lights, The Assistants, Parenthood, and soap opera All My Children.

At a time when Jordan has become a top draw for box offices, the actor admits a history of demanding a different kind of role than those immediately available to him. Jordan speaks with Issa Rae on Variety‘s Actors On Actors and opens up about his move. “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,” he said on Actors On Actors. “I didn’t want it. I wanted only [roles for] white men. That’s it. That’s all I want to do.”

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Ahead of Fruitvale‘s release, Jordan appeared in Chronicle. The Sci-Fi film script reportedly wrote “Steve Montgomery” as a white teen. Jordan auditioned for the part and got it. The producers re-named the character from his original name, “Steve Krasinsky.”

Thirty-one years after Robert Townsend’s Hollywood Shuffle satire on Black typecasting and challenges in Hollywood, a top actor admits it is still very real. “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.”

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As an actor, Jordan pushes through all limitations, whether due to screenwriter bias or old-guard industry thinking. “I wanted to go out for these roles because it was just playing people. It didn’t have to be like, ‘You’re playing the Black guy in this.’” Jordan’s declaration is also one made with his peers in mind. “Everybody would be going out for the same role. Every young Black actor from ages to 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 says that his agency, WME, embraces his perspective.

Jordan and Rae appear together on cover for the latest issue of Variety.