Working with Denzel Washington is a goal of many entertainers and Michael B. Jordan is the latest actor to realize that dream. Jordan plays the lead role in the upcoming drama, A Journal for Jordan, based on the memoir of the same name by Dana Canedy. The story centers on Canedy’s fiancé, First Sergeant Charles Monroe King, and the letters he wrote for his son while deployed in Iraq. Washington serves as director of the project, and according to Jordan, the two have been wanting to work together for some time.
“[Mr. Washington’s] very selective in who he works with and what projects he spends his time on and this is something that he really cared about and he was really passionate about,” Jordan tells ESSENCE. “He thought I was the right fit for it so that alone was something that really grabbed my attention and made me consider it seriously.”
There was also the opportunity to learn from his mentor whom the 34-year-old says working with brought about a “healthy pressure.”
“I think there was a pressure of just wanting to make him proud. That’s the GOAT right there,” Jordan explains. “But I knew it was an opportunity for me to learn and get a masterclass up close and personal in character development and acting and directing as well and how he ran his ship and production. I really observed and learned as much as I could day in and day out. It was a little pressure, but at the same time, it was a healthy pressure. I allowed it to motivate me to try to bring it each and every day.”
Working alongside co-star Chanté Adams was also a great experience, Jordan notes. Adams, who in recent years delivered strong performances in Roxanne and The Photograph, portrays Canedy in the upcoming film. “She’s solid, a really, really giving actress and scene partner,” Jordan says. “She worked really hard on this one as well. To see all of her hard work and dedication every time we stepped on set was a great thing.”
As Jordan closes out the year with a strong performance in this film, he’ll be charting new territory in 2022 as he makes his directorial debut with the upcoming action sequel Creed III. As for tips he picked up from Washington on stepping behind the scenes, Jordan says the main nugget the veteran actor and director taught him is the importance of preparation.
“He said, ‘Honestly, man, just try to prep as much as you can. Develop the script to a T. It’s constantly going to be evolving and growing, but just get with storyboard artists, start to draw up your shots as you see it in your head, get with your DP, and just prep as hard as you can while you have the time because once you actually start pre-production officially, time’s going to go by really fast,” Jordan shares. “He said prep is almost like grocery shopping and post is like when you’re actually cooking the meal. The majority of everything else is just picking all of your ingredients. You’re just picking and you’re shopping. And I was like, ‘I like to cook. I get that analogy.’
Doubling down on the wealth of knowledge he gained working with Washington on this project, Jordan adds, “He’s always got a lot of sayings and little gems so I’ve been trying to be a sponge and soak it all up along the way.”
Journal for Jordan is exclusively in movie theaters December 2021.