Photography By Pamela Littky
Want a reason to switch to DirecTV? We've got one: Michael B. Jordan's superlative acting on Friday Night Lights, Peter Berg's brilliant show about small-town Texas and the high school football it revolves around. Subscribers are currently glued to the exclusive 101 Network Wednesdays at 9 p.m. to see how things turn out for Jordan's character, East Dillon High's athletically gifted but troubled quarterback Vince Howard, in the show's fifth and final season (the rest of you chumps have to wait until April to watch on NBC). For the December 2010/January 2011 issue, Complex featured Jordan, who we've been a fan of since he shined on season one of HBO's The Wire, in "My Complex." Check out his conflicted thoughts on sharing his name with Jumpman, white writers putting words in his mouth, and actors not looking the part on the gridiron...
As Told To Justin Monroe (@40YardSplash)
"I'm actually named after my dad, who's older than the Michael Jordan from North Carolina. I thought about changing my name for a while, but one of the plusses is I can get any dinner reservation I want, anywhere. And growing up, casting directors always remembered my name. It was always a talking point... . BUT I GOT HUNG UP ON SO MANY TIMES ordering pizza in New York. They always thought I was prank calling. Like, 'What apartment? Twenty-three?' Then they'd hang up on me."
"There are still a lot of white writers writing for black people, and there's always going to be a lot of stuff lost in translation. Writers sometimes take the easy way out with race or stereotypes. In The Wire days, I never would've said anything.... BUT I DID ON FRIDAY NIGHT LIGHTS. Respectfully, of course. It was my responsibility as an actor to step up and speak on things that I felt weren't true. We actually went back and forth with some racial stuff and some crack stereotypes for the fifth season."
"With white actors, the sky's the limit. They can be whoever they want to be. I have a problem with there being three good roles [for black actors] and 3,000 black actors going for them. It's that whole crab-in-a-barrel mentality. The whole auditioning process is different—a guy going out maybe five times a week and a guy going out maybe two times a month. I don't want to make it all about race.... BUT IT IS. That's what drives me to create and put out content that I want to do myself."
"FNL's second unit [made up of former high school and college football players] talks shit all day. If you get a stand-in or you're not able to do your own stuff, they'll get at you... . BUT EVERYBODY THAT'S ON THE SHOW says that I'm probably the most athletic actor who has ever done it. They've done things with me this season that they've never done with another character, as far as me doing my own stunts and moving the offense. I actually shoot with the second unit. They took me in as one of their own."