2019 Cinema Vanguard Award Honoring Michael B. Jordan

Reviewed by Kassandra Ni. Viewed at the 2019 Santa Barbara Film Festival.

On a damp, frigid night of February 7, 2019, the Arlington Theater in downtown Santa Barbara presented the 2019 Cinema Vanguard Award to Michael B. Jordan. The event that was scheduled to begin at 8:00 pm, didn’t actually begin until 8:20 pm as the event was delayed in account for Michael B. Jordan arriving later than expected and spending about 8 minutes inside his Escalade that was parked outside the Arlington Theater. Besides the actual delay in Jordan’s attendance to the event that he was being honored at, the night was pretty eventful.

The event’s moderator was Scott Feinberg, a columnist for the Hollywood Reporter, who was delighted to get to speak with the actor again following their last meeting during last year’s Black Panther promotional circuit. Feinberg started the evening off with highlights into Jordan’s earlier acting projects, such as The Sopranos (1999), The Wire (2002), and All My Children (2003-2006). Jordan briefly described the thrill of having being cast as Wallace on The Wire (2002) and the close-knit family that he formed with his cast-mates. After being killed-off of the show, Jordan was frightened for the future of his career, he shared his fears of never being cast again because he was killed-off and never booking roles as big as Wallace. What surprised me the most about this era of Jordan’s career was his eventual gig on the soap opera All My Children. For an actor that is so well-known today, his past on the soap opera is not often publicized. Speaking about his experience of being on a soap opera, Jordan expressed the positive advantage of having such a rigorous taping schedule and how he grew more professionally as an actor from this experience. Jordan mentioned, that it was from one experience of not having his lines prepared that the show continued on with their filming schedule and they had to keep scene in which he messed up on his lines and continue on with broadcasting that segment. A cringy lesson that the actor learned from at an early age.

Following Jordan’s exit on the soap opera, Jordan did not do many other projects until he was cast as Vince Howard on Friday Night Lights (2009-2011). Being cast as a regular role on the NBC show, Jordan again grew very close to the cast and had a very positive experience of being a part of the project. After finishing Friday Night Lights Jordan decided to move to Hollywood to seriously pursue acting. During this 4 year period of his life, Jordan was not cast in many projects which subsequently made Jordan question whether or not he should pursue being an actor. Faced with the decision to abandon acting and to go back to New Jersey to pursue a college degree, Jordan auditioned for the role of Maurice “Bumps” Wilson in the film Red Tails (2012). This role would determine Jordan’s future in acting.

Luckily, Jordan was cast in Red Tails (2012) and soon after he was introduced to director Ryan Coogler, with whom he started to collaborate in projects with. The ideal pairing of Jordan and Coogler is what produced many box office successes, including: Fruitvale Station (2013), Creed (2015), and Black Panther (2018); as well as assist in elevating Jordan’s acting repertoire into being an A-list actor.

Looking back through Jordan’s acting career, Jordan emphasized his conscious decision to audition for roles that were traditionally reserved for Caucasian male leads, as seen in his portrayal of Johnny Storm in the film Fantastic Four (2015). Jordan explained his decision to seek these roles as a way to not be confined to typecast roles for an African-American man. Having done this, Jordan has openly broken down this typecast barrier for future actors and provided a platform to advocate for diversity in Hollywood.

Jordan was presented with the 2019 Cinema Vanguard Award by Jamie Foxx at approximately 9:55 pm. With a bright future ahead of him, Jordan is sure to keep succeeding in Hollywood and creating memorable roles within his career. With a lovable personality and humble mindset, I can’t wait to see what Jordan has in store for us in the future!

About this entry