Oak Cliff’s very own, Amber Barbee Pickens sat down with actor, producer and director Michael B Jordan in Hollywood for the CREED III star-studded premiere. Not only does Jordan star as Adonis Creed, he makes his directorial debut in the third installment of the CREED franchise. He has navigated his way through Hollywood since 2001’s Hardball and has not only talked about change but we’ve witnessed his growth. He is doing the work and is boldly carving out spaces for more creatives while setting the bar as a leading man. Believing that reaching back and bringing others up as well as how resources, knowledge, experiences play such a huge part of our journeys, Michael B Jordan’s focus on a higher calling and awareness of the armor he must wear to accomplish these things are admirable and make him truly a Leading Man.
Amber: I’ve been watching you since you were a young in in Hardball and now we’re sitting here celebrating Creed lll and a directorial debut. Creed lll is a testament to why it’s important to have Black creatives in front and behind the camera, so we can be able to tell our stories and then we won’t have to always be shown from the same narrow view. You’ve shared that your legacy is about who you put on. Why is it so important to you to bring others up, especially an industry when it’s so much about competition?
MBJ: I don’t know where the idea kind of came from or where the process came from. It’s about not feeling intimidated and it’s not a competition with anybody. You know, I’ve been extremely blessed and well favored my entire life. I worked extremely hard for it. But I know a lot of people don’t have those same opportunities, you know. So to be able to take old systems and old beliefs, stereotypes, and burst right through that glass ceiling is something that I’ve always been down for. So if I could create a production company, if I can create other vehicles for other talent, if I could bring in the talent into the mix, however I can, that’s been something I’ve always been down for. I don’t know when that first started but it’s just kind of who I am.
Amber: Yes, naturally. I got to chat with you briefly in 2020 and you shared that a lot of your roles impact your life and switch up your perspective. How has playing the role of Adonis Creed impacted you as an artist and as a man?
MBJ: I think it’s the other way around on this one. I think being able to play Adonis during the last nine years has been pretty influential to my trajectory and kind of like who I am today. Some of the things that I’ve been going through throughout the last decade. Adonis has been going through those things as well. Someone like him, being a star athlete, coming from where he’s coming from, his trials and tribulations, and obstacles he would be kind of faced with personally and professionally. I kind of had a little idea of what he would be going through. From childhood trauma to survivor’s guilt, just communication, you know, and all that good stuff. So I think there’s a vulnerability there that he needed to have in order to do that. He had to go through some extreme hardship.
Amber: I know you wear so many hats, especially for this production as director, leading actor, and producer. I’m sure it’s so much pressure and a lot of challenges you have to face. What is one of the most embarrassing moments you had while shooting Creed?
MBJ: Embarrassing moments? I don’t know.
Amber: Or maybe some funny moments!
MBJ: Listen, it was life or death every day. We fought for everything. Mila as a prankster. She brought so much levity and kind of like great energy to the set, you know? There’s a very emotional scene, and I’m teaching her how to box. A couple takes in, and she would just run literally just jump onto the heavy bag and start swinging. I mean full legs, arms wrapped around the bag and just kind of look at you with this deadpan face and I’m like, why are you doing this? She would just start smiling and laughing. Then she was kind of running back to sit or whatever. So just having those cute interactions and moments. That’s something I always think back at, and I always end up laughing.
Amber Pickens is a Dallas native and host of digital talk show “Kickback and Chat.” She hopes to continue building spaces for artists to thrive.