Jamie Foxx Presents Michael B. Jordan with Film Festival Award
Michael B. Jordan taking selfie's with fans (Photos: Fritz Olenberger)
By edhat staff
Actor Michael B. Jordan was honored with the Cinema Vanguard Award presented by Jamie Foxx on Thursday evening.
Fans piled into the Arlington Theatre for the final tribute of the Santa Barbara International Film Festival sponsored by Belvedere Vodka. Jordan was awarded for his critically acclaimed, culturally significant, and record-breaking box office hits: “Black Panther” and “Creed II.”
The Cinema Vanguard Award recognizes actors who have forged their own path, taking artistic risks and making a significant and unique contribution to film.
During his introductory remarks, SBIFF Executive Director Roger Durling told the audience, “I have to say, in sixteen years of running this festival, I have never heard or seen a reaction like the one outside when Michael B. Jordan showed up.” He went on to say that Jordan “personifies the star for the 21st century” and called the actor’s collaboration with Ryan Coogler “something for the ages.”
The evening began with an in-depth, one-on-one career retrospective conversation moderated by Scott Feinberg from The Hollywood Reporter. Upon taking the stage, Jordan received a standing ovation for which he was deeply appreciative.
Jordan spoke of his character Wallace in the iconic show "The Wire." He said he thought his career was over when he was killed off the show but spoke of how special and honest working on that project was.
After moving to Los Angeles to further pursue acting, Jordan said he struggled to support himself. He described the assumed correlation between fame and money as a common misconception. “You become more famous and known than you are financially stable,” he said. Jordan further explained that he paid the last rent check that he could afford and told himself if he didn't get the role in "Red Tails," he'd move back to New Jersey. He got the role and stayed in Los Angeles.
At this point in his career, Jordan told his agents he only wanted to audition for roles written for Caucasian males. “I wanted roles that didn’t have any bias on it,” Jordan said. “I wanted to play non-stereotypical roles. I wanted to authentically tell a black experience through a character that is not the stereotype.” That's how he landed the role in "Chronicle."
After the Trayvon Martin shooting, Jordan was feeling frustrated but didn’t know how to express it. He explained “Fruitvale Station” provided the opportunity to express that frustration. He described the film as “the vehicle that I need to really, as a young black man, express myself through my work, and at the same time shed a light on this guy who had his life taken away from him in such a way and then his character be put on trial.” This forged a bond between Jordan and first-time screenwriter and director Ryan Coogler.
Coogler and Jordan went on to make "Creed" and "Creed II" following the Rocky Balboa series and the mega-blockbuster hit, "Black Panther."
“He is a leader -- It’s in his bones, it’s in his DNA. You just believe in him and you trust him, and as an actor he makes you feel very comfortable. With all those key ingredients and the fact that we had so much in common, he’s become a brother of mine very quickly,” Jordan said of Coogler.
Jordan praised "Black Panther" and Coogler for creating an environment where people of color were working in front of and behind the camera. He said being on these African sets was like their "Star Wars" providing a place to dream and imagine rooted in their culture.
“We wanted to bridge the gap that they’re not that different -- African and African American. We were taught that there is this huge gap and that we’re not that alike to disenfranchisement. But we’re very similar, and I think this film started a conversation between young people that is going to continue to happen, it’s going to continue to grow, and it’s going to continue to build us together, and we’re going to see what happens in a few years. For us it was a conversation that needed to be had and it was a conversation that I didn’t even know I needed until we had it. So it was a very important project and process for me,” said Jordan.
He further discussed how great it was seeing children dress up as Black Panther characters and feeling a sense of pride that these kids could see themselves on screen and have the ability to dream.
Making another huge step, Jordan discussed creating his own production company, Outlier Society Productions. “For me, controlling my own destiny was very important to me. How do I build an ecosystem? How do I build something that is going to last a lot longer than my physical body and my career? How do I set up an environment to help other people win? Give other opportunities to actors, directors, writers, producers, executives, whatever it is, I want to create that space for you -- to breed and grow young talent, and remind people of the talent that exists that may not be getting those opportunities,” said Jordan.
At the conclusion of the conversation portion, Feinberg invited surprise guest Jamie Foxx to present Jordan with the award.
Foxx received a standing ovation when he took to the stage and proceeded to deliver a heartfelt and hilarious monologue in which he not only praised Jordan’s skill as an actor, but also teased him about his sex appeal. Foxx even engaged in a playful dialogue with the audience who constantly yelled "I love you" to Jordan.
But when it came time to get serious, Foxx spoke directly from the heart. “It looks good coming from you,” Foxx told Jordan. “The decisions that you’ve made and what you laid in the groundwork of ‘Fruitvale Station,’ and then to take that DNA and put it into ‘Black Panther,’ a huge hit, but you brought so much integrity. You made us walk different. You made us feel better about ourselves, whether you were black, white, red, or brown, you made us feel something. And I told you that is something very hard for the antagonist to do.”
After receiving the award, Jordan expressed his gratitude and shared some insight into what motivates him.
“I’m not in this for fame. I’m not in this for the attention. I’m really trying to create a blueprint to show people that if you’re good, and you’re good-hearted, and you do the right thing, that you can be successful,” he told the audience. “You can hold yourself to a higher standard and you don’t have to cut corners. There is no substitute for hard work and you don’t have to do it by yourself, you don’t have to do it alone. You surround yourself with people that believe in your vision, that are like minded, that are like-hearted, and you’ll be surprised at where that will take you.”
Jordan proceeded to make a commitment to produce film and television that “represents all of us,” as well as create opportunities for people “of all walks of life” both in front of and behind the camera.