For many actors, making the jump from television to the big screen can be a difficult transition. But with a starring role in one of last year's most buzzed-about films, Fruitvale Station, and an upcoming spot in the latest installment of The Fantastic Four, Michael B. Jordan is making it look easy.
In an exclusive interview with BET.com, Jordan talks about his new position as the 2014 Sprite Films student filmmaker mentor and program ambassador at CinemaCon, his favorite cast to work with and the one dream role he hopes to play in the near future.
Talk about how your life changed after Fruitvale Station.
It's like night and day. I remember going to Sundance with my manager, and the day before we were walking up the street and maybe one or two people stopped me, asked me for a picture or whatever, and the premiere was that night. The next day I couldn't get two feet without [people stopping me]. It was my first time ever dealing with paparazzi and it was just insane. The film has been huge for me professionally, and even just being respected by my peers and my people within the film community. People from all walks of life have really been affected by this project and it means the world to me.
In addition to acting, you're also taking on the role of mentor for Sprite Films. How has that been, and what kinds of advice do you give to aspiring young filmmakers?
First of all, I think the Sprite filmmakers program is amazing. I'm really digging the next generation, and for me, personally, I feel like my film career has been made off of first-time film directors. To be able to give back and offer some insight, or help them avoid an obstacle or two that they may have run into, or make their vision a little more clear and see it all the way through, I'm all for that. I come from on-the-job experience and I feel like the best thing these filmmakers can do is continue to work.
As you're watching these films, has your mind started to switch into executive mode? Does it make you think about getting into the production side of the business?
That's exactly where I'm at right now. I've been doing this for over a decade and you really start to see how things work, your taste buds start to change and you start to grow and you want to have more of a hand in it, like, "Oh, I love that book, let's get the rights and develop it, write a script and attach people to it." I start to think like a producer or an executive. That's really where I'm at moving forward, understanding the game and how to play it, and wanting to leave my mark on it as best I can."
Through the years you've been a part of some incredible casts. Looking back, which one has been your favorite?
By default I'm gonna say The Wire, because they're all like uncles to me. They saw me grow up. So even after I got killed off in the first season, I stayed in touch with everybody to this day. The show was supposed to get cancelled after season one, so we felt like we were a part of something like, we weren't even supposed to be here. We had a chip on our shoulder. The show didn't get its Emmy nomination until season five or something like that, so we've always been feeling like the underdog and we stick together. The Wire, for sure.
Speaking of The Wire, Tristan Wilds is doing big things on the music side. What do you think of what you've heard so far?
I am so proud of him because I remember when he first started, when it was just him and his Macbook computer and he was just sitting there trying different raps, trying to find his voice and find his home. So from that to being Grammy-nominated first time out...I'm so proud of that boy it's ridiculous. It's something we always knew he had in him, but to see him follow through and really take it to the highest level is unbelievable. Speaks to his talent and his hard work.
You've already done so much. Is there still a dream role out there that you haven't played yet?
I've always wanted to play Sam Cooke. I love the story. I love his music and I feel like when I get some more man years on me I'll be able to go ahead and knock that out, you know. So that's definitely a role I've been dying to do. I'm gonna get that done eventually.
People can view and vote for this year's short films by going to www.sprite.com/films.
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(Photo: Alberto E. Rodriguez/Getty Images)