BLACK VOICES

Michael B. Jordan Announces Obama Foundation Partnership, Creates Youth Fellowship

The "Black Panther" star's production company, Outlier Society, is working to provide opportunities in the entertainment industry for underrepresented youths.

Actor-producer Michael B. Jordan has announced a new fellowship for boys and young men of color, created through his production company, Outlier Society, in partnership with the Obama Foundation and the My Brother’s Keeper Alliance.

The “Black Panther” star made the announcement at the alliance’s first national meeting, which took place in Oakland, California, Feb. 18 to 20. The fellowship will provide support to young people aspiring to break into the entertainment industry, he said. 

When you get in a position of power or you get a little bit of leverage to help create opportunities for other people,” Jordan said at the event, addressing ways to boost representation of people of color in filmmaking. “I think that’s really, really important. It’s something I always promised myself that once I got a production company, I would be able to do that.”

He continued, “We’re starting an Outlier fellowship, an internship. Basically, we’re going to select certain young black men, people of color, people from underrepresented groups across the board, and place them in major companies throughout the entertainment industry.”

Jordan said the fellowship will help open doors and encourage participants to put time and hard work into their craft and master it.

Former President Barack Obama launched My Brother’s Keeper in 2014 to support young men of color by working to close opportunity gaps, the foundation’s website states. The MBK Alliance was launched in 2015 as an independent nonprofit and became an initiative under the Obama Foundation in 2017. 

Jordan announced his partnership at the event during an on-stage discussion with “Black Panther” director Ryan Coogler and Rashad Robinson, the executive director of the racial justice organization Color of Change. 

Coogler talked about his perspective creating his first feature film, the critically acclaimed “Fruitvale Station,” about Oscar Grant, an unarmed black 22-year-old who was fatally shot by a police officer at an Oakland train station. 

“I wanted folks to have a chance to be brought in closer proximity to living in 24 hours, a day of a life, of a guy like Oscar Grant,” Coogler said.

He added, “I was often struck by how absent those types of portrayals were from the films that I watched coming up.”

Jordan, who played Grant in the film, said, “For me, it was the perfect opportunity for me to express myself as a young black man and as an actor.”

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