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Michael B Jordan on Why He’s Taking a ‘Color-Blind’ Approach to Choosing New Roles

”You feel like you’re pitted against each other,“ actor says of limited good parts available for young African-American actors

Michael B. Jordan says that as his star rises, he’s taking a more color-blind approach to the parts he chooses, finding himself in a position to turn down roles specifically for black actors in period pieces or biopics in favor of more diverse parts, even those originally written for white men.

In a new GQ profile of the “Creed II” star, Jordan says that by age 19 after starring in “The Wire” and “Friday Night Lights” and before landing “Fruitvale Station,” he was frustrated by the parts he was offered like that of thugs or drug dealers, which he often considered stereotypical for a young black actor. He further disliked competing with every other actor of color for the handful of good parts available.

“You feel like you’re pitted against each other, in hindsight. I was like, ‘Damn! Everybody should be able to, like, work and grow and eat together. We’re not. Well, then, I guess there’s not enough roles,'” Jordan told GQ. “I guess the only logical thing to do is to create more roles.”

As a response, Jordan says he’s now not limiting himself specifically to parts from one point of view.

“Obviously, there are certain roles in film and television that are specifically African-American, usually period pieces,” Jordan’s agent Phillip Sun told GQ. “But why, if he were just an actor, why would he be limited to only those roles? He was like, ‘Why should other people be held back like that? Why shouldn’t stories from different points of view be told more frequently? What is holding people back from doing that?’ And at the end of the day, we all know in Hollywood: It’s star power. If you have the star that wants to lead the way in that way, they’re going to do it.”

Jordan earlier this year starred in “Black Panther” and will also be seen as civil rights lawyer Bryan Stevenson alongside Brie Larson in “Just Mercy.” But he also starred as The Human Torch in “Fantastic Four” and will star in a remake of “The Thomas Crown” affair, playing the title role originally played by Steve McQueen and Pierce Brosnan.

Jordan says he’s modeling his movie star trajectory off actors like Tom Cruise, Leonardo DiCaprio and Will Smith who have all achieved global levels of fame.

“I remember when it used to be like, ‘He’s the next Will Smith,’ ” Jordan says. “Now I’m the example of the next–they’re looking for the next me.”

Read Jordan’s full GQ profile here.