Michael B. Jordan, an actor who got his start when he was just 12 years old, is earning rave reviews for his portrayal of Oscar Grant III in "Fruitvale Station," a film that tells the true story of a young father shot to death by a transit officer at an Oakland, Calif., subway stop in 2009. The tragic event was captured on a cell phone camera and the video quickly spread around the Internet. Jordan was one of the countless who watched.
"Somebody posted the video on my [Facebook] wall," Jordan tells Oprah in the above clip from his "Oprah's Next Chapter" interview. "I didn't want to believe it. I didn't want to believe this actually happened."
Jordan admits he kept pressing "play" on the video, trying to make sense of what he saw. "I watched it probably more times than I should, just trying to find a reason," he says. "Like, what did [Grant] do to deserve to be shot?"
In the portrayal of Grant in "Fruitvale Station," Jordan says both he and the film's director, Ryan Coogler, set out with the clear intention to show a different dimension to Grant, namely his humanity. "Of course he made mistakes. He was flawed. I think we're all flawed," Jordan says. "But we just wanted to show all those sides."
The film also contains a scene in which Jordan's character finds a dying dog in the street and comforts the animal that others had left for dead. For Jordan, the scene was symbolic of how African-American men are perceived in today's culture.
"Black males, we are America's pit bull. We're labeled vicious, inhumane and left to die on the street," Jordan says. "Oscar was kind of left for dead. So many of us young African-American males left for dead... We get branded a lot for being vicious, not human, so we wanted to show the humanity."