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SYFY WIRE Michael B. Jordan

Black Panther's Michael B. Jordan calls for commitment to 'Black hiring' in Hollywood

By Josh Weiss
Michael B. Jordan

Appearing at a Black Lives Matter protest in Los Angeles Saturday, actor Michael B. Jordan (known for his role as Erik Killmonger in Ryan Coogler's Black Panther) urged the entertainment industry to diversify its hiring strategies.

"You committed to a 50/50 gender parity in 2020," he said, calling out studios and agencies. "Where is the challenge to commit to Black hiring? Black content led by Black executives and Black consultants? Are you policing our storytelling as well? Let us bring our darkness to the light."

Jordan's various film roles have directly explored the topics of systemic inequality and police brutality. Killmonger, for instance, sought justice for centuries of discrimination against Black people worldwide, and although his methods were at odds with T'Challa (Chadwick Boseman), the character was hailed by critics and audiences for bringing a deeper social relevance to an MCU film.

In Fruitvale Station, which is based a true story and also directed by Coogler, Jordan played Oscar Grant III, an African-American man who was fatally shot by a police officer in Oakland in 2009.

"I had an opportunity to embody who he was," Jordan said at the protest. "I had an opportunity to feel the pain of his family, of his daughter, his mother. I lived with that for a really long time. I also played a fireman in Fahrenheit 451, who was thirsting for knowledge and joining the revolution. Producing that movie made me realize the lengths that the government and oppressors will go to keep knowledge out of your hands. They know that if we unlock this up here" — as the actor pointed to his head — "that we'll be unstoppable, and they're scared."

Last year, he portrayed civil rights lawyer Bryan Stevenson in Destin Daniel Cretton's Just Mercy.

"The sneakers, sports, [and] comedic culture that you love so much, we've dealt with discrimination at every turn," the actor continued at the California protest. "Can you help fund Black brands, companies, brands, leaders, organizations? A great agent doesn't have to be a great organizer, but a great agent could advocate for relationships with organizers. Will you support a non-profit that is working to solve problems that our industry created?"

Urging people to vote and make their voices heard, Jordan finished by saying, "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, then you don't need to be with me."

Michael B. Jordan protest