With his latest critically acclaimed film, Just Mercy, Michael B. Jordan adds his first full producer credit to his resume (cue: “Rooting for everybody Black” applause.)
The legal drama follows the real life journey of attorney Bryan Stevenson (Jordan), whose mission is to free Walter McMillan (played masterfully by Jamie Foxx), an African-American man wrongfully imprisoned and sentenced to death in Alabama for the 1986 murder of a White woman. It’s a story of relentless hope in the face of the worst-isms, a story of Black men fighting for one another against all odds.
Wearing the hats of both producer and star, Jordan is putting to good use some of the generous wisdom he learned from Hollywood heavyweights. He told ESSENCE’s Yes, Girl! cohosts Cori Murray and Charli Penn what he’s learned that’s helped him grow into who he is now.
“I’ve been fortunate enough to be around great shows, great casts, and great producers who weren’t precious with information. [Director] Peter Berg told me, [in my] early 20’s I guess, [he] was like, ‘There’s going to come a time where you’re going to get tired of waiting for your phone to ring, you’re going to get tired of waiting for incoming phone calls. You should start writing, and start creating your own things, and start taking control of your creative destiny.’ That stuck with me.”
From that simple yet sage advice he spent an entire summer in a house, crafting a television show with a close friend.
“The show never made it anywhere, but that practice, that process of going through it, really gave me the fundamentals of what it takes to make a show,” said Jordan. “Then it just started to grow and figuring out how to navigate the game.”
The Emmy nominated actor, who began his acting career as a teenager, has a swath of commercial successes in both television and film like The Wire, Friday Night Lights, Fruitvale Station, the Creed series and Black Panther—and he’s only getting started.
“I want to continue to tell stories like Just Mercy that are extremely important. My production company is in its third year, so I’m continuing to grow that and create opportunities, and tell stories.”
Listen to the full episode here: