In the wake of the critical and commercial success of Creed, Vulture recently did a profile on two of the most vital and rising movie industry players currently working — writer/director Ryan Coogler and star Michael B. Jordan. I recommend everyone read the whole thing as it’s a lovely piece with some great moments I won’t go into here, but it’s also very quotable. Coogler and Jordan come across as completely irrepressible; enjoying their hard-earned, deserved success while still being somewhat baffled by it, and with a sociopolitical awareness that is refreshing to see in the industry.
Here are some highlights:
Black art, it’s so complicated. Because there is no white art. Because, whether people want to admit it or not, you know, in this country, in this culture, white is seen as the norm. Because there’s no need to identify it as anything, it’s looked at as standard. Which, if you compare and contrast that, there’s an inherent unfairness to it.
Jordan, on the fatigue that comes with telling only traditional-era civil rights stories:
You got to tell stories in today, or in the future. Or can we go back even further? There’s always one period that people want to go back to, but can we go back to Hannibal? Or Mansa Musa, destroying economies as he traveled? Can we go back to the Egyptians?
I used to get crushed when I was younger and would watch movies about young people. And I’d be like, No — that’s not us. Or reading articles about the millennial generation — people making general statements about us. Again, no. Wrong. Just hire us, bruh. Hire me and let me work.
The majority of roles out there are written not by us [young black people] so if [most writers’] only interaction with someone who looks like me is from stereotypes, what you see on TV, then those are the types of roles that are going to keep getting written. Also, I don’t have to go out for every role that’s written black. I want to go out for the role that’s written [with race unspecified] — I’m going to make that role black regardless.
Coogler, on fame:
We went to see Mayweather fight Maidana. Sly hooked it. We were trying to get something to eat. We couldn’t get two steps without somebody stopping Mike. It was mostly women, and they weren’t even asking, they were just handing him the phone. I’m seeing his life change in a way that’s so different from mine as a director. I’m able to get a sandwich when I want to.
Let the man work, indeed.