Early into the Black Lives Matter protests that have swept the nation and the globe, CNN’s Don Lemon chastised Hollywood players who’ve done little to support the cause. Since then a number of celebrities have put in live appearances. Last week, John Boyega delivered a stirring, emotional speech, one so direct he wondered if it would hurt his career. (Luckily it probably won’t.) Now Michael B. Jordan has popped up at one in Los Angeles, where he had choice words for his currently paused industry.
As per Entertainment Weekly, the actor attended a protest in Century City, and he addressed a matter of great concern right now: How does Hollywood change to recognize the racial issues raised by the killing of George Floyd?
— BET (@BET) June 7, 2020
“We have to relook at our business,” Jordan told the crowd. One solution, he said, was to “invest in black staff,” at studios and at agencies. “You committed to a 50/50 gender parity in 2020, where is the challenge to commit to black hiring?” he asked. “Black content led by black executives, black consultants. Are you policing our storytelling as well? Let us bring our darkness to the light.”
Jordan spoke about how he’s handled his own career. “Anybody that deals with me, if you have racist beliefs, if you have a racist bone in your body, if you’re not with me, if you don’t stand with me and people that look like me, you don’t need to be with me,” Jordan said. “I use my power to demand diversity but it’s time that studios and agencies do so.”
Jordan has regularly taken roles that address the issues being raised during the protests. His starmaking role was in Fruitvale Station, in which he played Oscar Grant, one of countless African-American victims of police violence. Jordan spoke about researching the role, having the “opportunity to feel the pain of his family, his daughter, his mother.” He added, “I lived with that for a very long time and it weighs on me.”
He also spoke about his starring role in the 2018 HBO version of Fahrenheit 451, in which he played a fireman in a dystopian future who joins the revolution. “Producing that movie made me really realize the lengths that the government and oppressors will go to keep knowledge out of your hands,” Jordan said.
Then there’s last year’s Just Mercy, which was recently made available for free over streaming platforms for the rest of the month in light of the protests. The docudrama tells of an idealistic lawyer, named Bryan Stevenson played by Jordan, who tries to help an African-American man wrongfully convicted of murder (played by Foxx). Jordan spoke about the honor of playing Stevenson. “I learned his tactics. I learned his mentality. I learned his approach to things. Very calm. Very strategic. Very thoughtful,” Jordan said. “You have to be proximal. You have to be close to [the] issues.”
Jordan also tried to inspire fellow protesters to stay strong and to stay the course. “What we are doing today will make our values heard and our voices heard. We’ve got to keep agitating things,” he said. “We can’t be complacent. We can’t let this moment just pass us by, we have to continue to put our foot on their necks.”
(Via Entertainment Weekly)