As his career shows, Michael B. Jordan has not been one to shy away from complex portrayals of black people. The actor, whose first major break was as “Wallace” on The Wire, has played Oscar Grant, a 22-year-old black man killed by a Bay Area Rapid Transit (BART) officer on New Year’s day, and Black Panther’s primary villain, Erik Killmonger, a black man so obsessed with the promise and allure of Wakanda he’s willing to kill—and be killed—for it.
But at one point in his career, Jordan says he deliberately sought roles written for white characters. In conversation with Issa Rae for the Variety show, Actors on Actors, Jordan says around the time he was working on Fruitvale Station, he told his agents to filter the roles they sent to him.
“[I told my agents] I don’t want to out for any role that’s written for African Americans in the breakdown,” Jordan told Issa Rae, who nodded knowingly in response.
“I want to only go for, like, [roles written for] white males. That’s it,” he said. “Me playing that role is going to make it what it is. I don’t want any pre-bias on the character.”
Jordan added that writers “write what they know, what their encounters of us would be. And that’s a slight bias.”