Before he was named one of GQ's Men of the Year, Michael B. Jordan was sneaking into the magazine's famous Men of the Year parties.
The actor was announced as one of the magazine's MOTY earlier this week, alongside Jonah Hill, Henry Golding and Woman of the Year, Serena Williams, among others, and AOL's Gibson Johns caught up with Jordan, who said that the title has forced him to reflect on how far he's come.
"I remember sneaking into those parties," he said with a laugh. "I remember not being on the list and looking at the bouncer like, 'Come on, it’s me! Come on, I know you watched 'The Wire' -- stop playing!' Going from to those moments at parties to being on the cover of the magazine shows a lot of growth and hard work and I appreciate it. Not in a vanity sense, but just that you consider me to be somebody who deserves the Man of the Year title. It’s an earned title, and you want to live up to it a little bit."
Jordan's fame has skyrocketed in the past couple of years thanks to a pair of highly-successful films -- "Creed" and "Blank Panther" -- both of which will have sequels ("Creed II" hits theaters on November 21). And, with that increased fame comes more of an expectation to be a good role model. It's something that Jordan has noticed more during his recent interactions with fans; it's clear to him that he's had a pretty profound impact on young men, especially.
"More now, since I really started to feel it transition in my career, with 'Creed' and 'Black Panther,'" he said when we asked if he worries about being a good role model. "That's when I really started to see the kids start to show me love. High school kids and little kids [will be] coming up to me, and I’m like, 'Oh, man. This is a moment for you.' So, I’m like, 'Whats up?' and I'm really starting to realize they pick up on things I say and do and they’re reciting lines from movies and I’m like, 'Oh, man, they’re soaking up everything I say.' So, it makes you a little more conscious of where you are and what you’re saying and what example you’re going to be."
A recent example of that realization came this summer when Jordan was driving by a school in Montgomery, Alabama, and decided to stop by and surprise the group of boys outside the school. Footage of the surprise that he posted on Instagram instantly went viral, and the feel good clip has over 2 million views and makes it clear that Jordan has cemented himself as an aspirational figure for many little boys. He still gets "goosebumps" thinking about the moment.
"You feel responsible in a sense. This is the moment where you know they’re ears are wide open and their eyes are locked," he explained. "You’re like, 'Okay, I have a chance to deposit something good in them, so let me just give them some good energy and feed their souls a little bit.'"
I was driving from set & saw these young kings standing in their school parking lot doing jumping jacks in 90 degree Montgomery Alabama heat! The sight of them inspires me & reminds me why I do what I do!!
A post shared by Michael B. Jordan (@michaelbjordan) on Aug 27, 2018 at 10:01am PDT
Another way that he's positioning himself as a good example to young people is through giving back. The actor recently partnered with Honey Nut Cheerios on its new Good Rewards program, which allows families to partner with celebrities like Jordan, Lucy Hale and Rob Gronkowski, to win money for charity. Growing up with a father who worked at a food bank, the actor has always recognized the importance of helping others and he's still figuring out the best way to use his ever-growing platform to do so.
"I’m just trying to find the right way to do it," Jordan said of giving back. "Sometimes trying to think of the perfect way [to do so] will leave you paralyzed and make you not do anything, but anything counts. Any little bit is going to help. Just do something, because it will make somebody’s day. It comes from my parents and watching them give back, whether it’s donating old clothes or giving to food pantries or volunteering at the food bank, it’s always been second nature."