Before he activated the world’s thirst as Erik Killmonger in Black Panther, before he made folks who were sick of seeing generic white boys on the big screen sit up and take notice with his portrayal of Adonis Creed in Creed, even before he broke into mainstream film while earning critical acclaim by portraying Oscar Grant in Fruitvale Station (we would love to erase the existence of the 2015 Fantastic Flop, er, Four from the public’s collective memory, Men In Black-style), Michael B. Jordan was known as the quarterback Vince Howard in the television series Friday Night Lights. Inhabiting the role of a very promising athlete with a troubled family life from 2009 to 2011, MBJ already showed hints of a superstar future. And seven years later, here we are, with the world ready to anoint him as a bonafide Internet boyfriend.
(And no, to those who haven’t Googled it yet, no relation to the Michael Jordan. The B in his name is for Bakari, but among some very appreciative circles, it stands for Bae.)
Much like his impressive and still growing filmography, MBJ has had a few PR misses in his journey to superstardom. His 2014 interview with Glamour, for example, had him presenting a short list of qualities he was looking for in a woman: “…Is it the past-12-o’clock-in-the-morning list? Then my checklist is a little shorter…Two legs. [A] pulse.” Oof. Also not helping was his answer to the interviewer’s question of whether he’d respect a woman for sleeping with him on the first date: “No. No. Maybe…but a little less.” Double oof.
He was still on a misogynist roll in 2015, stating in his September interview with GQ, “…I understand what females want and need, you know. I’m good at that. I don’t know if I’m the guy to give it to them right now….Females, they come and go.” Females. In reference to women.
We had a hunch he got clocked by a smart woman for that particular expression, because the following year, MBJ penned an open letter, published on Essence, where he addressed first the accusation that he believed in “All Lives Matter”—not true, he says, as he has long been a strong supporter of the #BlackLivesMatter movement—then went on to express regret and shame for any disparaging thing he has said about women, black women in particular. He added for good measure:
“The word ‘female’ used in the manner that I did is dismissive and strips women of their humanity. It is a slang term that guys sometimes use to sound slick and cool coming up. But words have power and I realize now more than ever that this careless language is dehumanizing, inappropriate, and immature. I’m a better man than that. This reference to women will not come out of my mouth publicly or in private again.”
Now call us naïve or gullible, but this sounds like a sincere apology. And we haven’t seen or heard MBJ get messy again when it comes to commenting on women, though he certainly won’t get a pass if he does.
What we also haven’t missed was how fantastic a dresser he is. Though a lot of credit obviously goes to his stylist Jeff K. Kim, MBJ shows all the signs of being a clotheshorse who appreciates the necessity of taking a well-thought-out risk in fashion every now and then.
For example: a patterned suit? Check.
Some light-catching texture? Of course.
Embellishments at the more unusual spots? Sure.
A hard-to-pull color palette? Why not, if he can smash it out of the park.
MBJ and his stylist have made it to the 2016 cover of The Hollywood Reporter‘s annual issue on Hollywood’s top stylists and the talents they dress, and the actor has now become a front row fixture at Fashion Week. As he should be.
The 31-year-old still knows how to dress down, though, favoring hooded vests and sweaters for more casual settings.
Michael Bae Jordan sounds just about right.
Header image from Getty Images.