Michael B. Jordan has been acting since he was a kid, first in commercials and guest roles in Cosby and The Sopranos, followed by a long-running stint on All My Children, memorable turns on The Wire and Friday Night Lights and noteworthy movies like Red Tails and Chronicle. This year, Jordan is enjoying a new level of acclaim with his breakout role in Fruitvale Station, which arrives on DVD and Blu-Ray on January 14. Jordan has been nominated for an Independent Spirit Award and an NAACP Image Award for his role as slain Bay Area resident Oscar Grant III.
On January 31, he'll broaden his range in the romantic comedy That Awkward Moment and will suit up to play Johnny Storm in a new Fantastic Four flick later this year. Jordan, whose middle initial stands for Bakari, is living up to its Swahili translation, "of noble promise." The actor, who will turn 27 on February 9, reflects on his career and more in this BET.com exclusive interview.
What do you make of all the attention and praise you've received?
It feels amazing, honestly, to work hard at something for such a long time and then to get accolades. It feels good to be respected by your peers and have people appreciate my work. It's a dream come true. My mom and dad always told me, "You put the hard work in and the time in, and it'll pay off." I've just been trying to keep my head down, focus on my craft and do good work.
Are you even more particular about roles now?
It is pretty important to me to make my next couple of choices memorable. I don't want to do anything that I'm not going to be proud of or don't really believe in. I want to show range. I want to be that guy who can do anything I put my mind to.
You were born in Santa Ana, California, but raised in Newark, New Jersey, the middle of three children. Was your family close?
Very, and we still are. We traveled, played a lot of sports. Acting was sort of on the back burner until I turned 15 or 16, and then it moved into the forefront.
Your mother has struggled with the disease lupus for a long time. How does that impact you and your family?
When one of us is in pain, we all go through it together. My mom's illness has been a learning experience for all of us. It's a battle that I can't fight personally but through foundations like Lupus L.A., I can use my position to raise awareness and funds for research. As a son, I try to be there for moral support and let my mom know she's not going through it by herself.
What professional and personal goals do you set now?
I want to produce and direct, create material both in television and film, moving forward in my career — and I want to give back. I want to leave this world in a better place that it was in when I got here. I want to work with charities, schools, the next generation, to catch them at a young enough age where you can mold them in the right direction and inspire them to be better people. I just want to be happy, with my family, my friends and in knowing that I'm doing something I love doing.
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(Photo: Gareth Cattermole/Getty Images for DIFF)