Michael B. Jordan is one of the bright young faces in the entertainment industry. Since his breakout performance in Fruitvale Station, the Newark, N.J., native has been everywhere, from spreads in magazines like GQ to being named one of the actors to watch by People magazine. He is currently filming the 2015 reboot of Fantastic Four, in which he'll star as Johnny Storm, a.k.a. The Human Torch. In addition to this role, Jordan will be the 2014 Sprite Films ambassador and mentor where he will guide and engage in one-on-one conversations with the six finalists for the program to discuss their film projects and future plans in the industry.

Students from 23 colleges and universities across the country entered their short films into the Sprite Films program, with six original short films by six students chosen as finalists. Public online viewing and voting of the short films will be open through May 15, at which point movie fans will select the student winner of the Fan Favorite Award. A group of film industry experts, including Jordan, will crown the Green Ribbon Panel winner.

With all that in mind, XXL spoke to Jordan about playing a superhero, Sprite Films and the hip-hop records he's spinning on his iPod. —Emmanuel C.M.


Photo Credit: Bryan Steffy/Getty Images for Sprite Films.

XXL: What's it like playing a superhero?
Michael B. Jordan: I’m excited, man. It’s been something I’ve known about and not been able to talk too much about it. Now that everything is in the light and finally public, I can openly be happy about it. It’s a dream come true, as a comic book fan and a fan of cartoons and just that Marvel/DC world; just imagine playing those roles and thinking it's so farfetched, seeming like it would never be possible, and turn around and play a character that you’ve been in love with for a long time. Johnny Storm is a fun character to play; for me, it’s living out my dream for sure.

If you could have a superpower, what would you choose?
It'd probably be the power of teleportation. You ever see that movie Jumper? The freedom to travel wherever you want to go, I think that’s the ultimate ability. Traveling now is something that I strive to do and see as much as I can. If I could be, in a split second, anywhere I want to be, that’s what I would want.

Why did you get involved in Sprite Films?
The reason why I got involved with Sprite Films is because I like what they stand for. I’m a firm believer in the next generation of anything. Life has to continue; you have to give back and re-educate and make sure the world that you’re in, that you’re leaving, is in good hands for people to take over and continue to add to it. Within the film industry, I feel like first-time filmmakers [have] been such a pivotal piece in my life and my career. It'd be almost stupid and selfish to be able not to give back and help and give these next batch of filmmakers [the chance to] grow and become the next Tarantinos, Scorseses and Coppolas. It was a no-brainer for me to be involved with this program.


Photo Credit: Bryan Steffy/Getty Images for Sprite Films.

What advice did you give to the filmmakers?
Go follow your dreams, be as prepared as possible. Don’t have any egos. I run across some egos in the entertainment industry and it doesn’t make for [good] chemistry. I want to encourage these students to collaborate as much as possible. Be a team player. That’s so important; have a firm opinion on the story and vision and the voice you want to have. Have your own voice, but at the same time always take into consideration that you’re working with other professionals that are in their lane as well. Always be able to collaborate; nobody wants to feel like they're just a tool. They want to feel like they have a piece, they have a stake in the big picture. But just go follow your dreams, never take no for an answer. There is no blueprint for being successful. Always be able to adapt and be ambitious; shoot for the stars.

Any particular advice someone gave you that you hold dear?
I got a chance to meet Sidney Poitier, someone who broke down so many doors for people who look like me in this industry. And he told me not to change, and that I have a huge responsibility now. [He told me] to continue to work hard, think about the people that’s going to be looking at you and the people that’s going to be looking up to you. Acting is such a solo journey, you're kind of in it for yourself; you go to audition by yourself, you study lines by yourself a lot of times, you're alone a lot of times...sometimes you can just get caught in thinking about yourself. To hear his advice and to set that example was a big deal for me because it kind of—not changed the way—but it had me cautious of the things that I do, the roles that I choose, my family, everything. It was such a broad yet such specific advice to me that it kind of changed the way I choose the roles for me and things that I want to do moving forward. I really thank Sidney Poitier for that.


Photo Credit: Bryan Steffy/Getty Images for Sprite Films.

Who did you listen to when you were younger?
Tupac was one of them. I listened to a lot of Tupac growing up. I felt like he spoke to me. I felt like his music motivated me; he gave me a chip on my shoulder. Growing up with the name Michael Jordan and playing ball a little bit, it kind of forced me to put a little chip on my shoulder to kind of compete. I always knew somebody just had to have something to say. I never wanted to be just a name. A lot of Jay Z growing up, coming from Newark, that was definitely somebody. Method Man. I listened to a lot of East Coast rappers growing up. Nowadays I listen to J. Cole. I listen to J. Cole a lot; I think he’s so talented. He speaks about a lot of things that I go through in my mind. Drake, my generation. When we was growing up, we looked up to rappers that was older than us. We didn’t really have any rappers that was speaking about things we were going through. Now [with] me at 27, you got Wale, you got J. Cole, Drake; you got people that are talking about things that I’m particularly going through today.


What's your favorite hip-hop album?
That’s tough. I can listen to Reasonable Doubt front to back. That’s one. I’m going to say Reasonable Doubt, and I’m going to put it out there. [Laughs]

Would you ever make a rap song?
Nah, man, I stick to what I’m good at. I stay in my lane. I’m a fan of music; I’m going to let them do what they do best. Now if they need me play a part in the video, maybe. I might do like one video, just one. But that’s about it.

If you could pick one hip-hop song to be your theme song, what would it be?
I think I’m going to go with Kanye West's “Champion.”