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Over the last few years, Michael B. Jordan has handily turned into one of Hollywood's most promising actors. One of the watershed moments of his career came with the release of Ryan Coogler's Fruitvale Station, which saw him deliver a powerhouse performance as the late Oscar Grant. That film marked a transition for his career too, as it signified the moment that he opted to stop going out for roles written for black actors. The actor explained:
Right around the time 'Fruitvale Station' went down, I told my agents I didn't want to go out for any roles written for African Americans. I didn't want it. I wanted only white men. That's it. That's all I want to do. Me playing that role is going to make it what it is. I don't want any pre-bias on the character...Writers write what they know, what they think encounters with us would be, and that's slight bias.
Prior to Fruitvale Station, Michael B. Jordan had played numerous roles written for black actors in TV shows like The Wire and films like Red Tails. However, following his portrayal of Oscar Grant (a young black man shot by police in San Francisco on New Year's Eve in 2009) in Fruitvale Station, he opted to make the change. Instead of sticking to the roles written for black actors, he called his agent and demanded characters written for white actors to remove "slight bias" from the casting process.
We have seen the effects of that decision over the course of the last few years as well. Perhaps most notably, Michael B. Jordan was cast to play the traditionally-white Johnny Storm in Josh Trank's Fantastic Four. More recently, he played Guy Montag in HBO's update of Ray Bradbury's Fahrenheit 451.
By making that career shift and going out for roles written for white actors, Michael B. Jordan also apparently got a chance to sidestep some of the perceived competition that young black actors face. Elsewhere in his appearance on Variety's Actors on Actors series, Jordan elaborated:
I wanted to go out for these roles because it was just playing people. It didn't have to be like, 'You're playing the black guy in this.' And everybody would be going out for the same role. Every young black actor from ages 17 to 40 going out for the same role. How do you reverse engineer that problem of pitted competition with each other and give more opportunities to eat and be successful?
There have obviously been some exceptions to that rule in recent years. Michael B. Jordan continued his ascent through Hollywood with performances in movies like Creed and Black Panther, playing roles that specifically required a black actor. Nevertheless, Jordan has made it clear that he doesn't just want to portray characters specifically written to fit a race.
We will have to wait and see where this attitude will take Michael B. Jordan next. For now, you can head over to our 2018 movie premiere guide to see what else is coming to theaters this year!