EXCLUSIVE: Michael B. Jordan and his Outlier Society production company continue to make waves and set the bar in the industry when it comes to advocacy and representation. It is launching the Outlier Fellowship, an initiative he announced Wednesday during the Obama Foundation’s MBK Rising!, a national event in Oakland that gathers My Brother’s Keeper (MBK) Alliance leaders, practitioners, and youth who are working to help young men of color achieve their dreams.
The initiative, which comes during Black History Month, is an internship and mentorship program providing access, opportunity and community to underrepresented young people entering media, arts and entertainment. The Obama Foundation and MBK share Jordan’s mission of uplifting young people of color and will offer the first pipeline of candidates for the fellowship and help create a safe and supportive community as Outlier Fellows spread across the nation. The fellowship will draw high school and college students from underrepresented communities for a summer internship program that combines immersive work experience and mentorship/networking opportunities from leaders in the arts and entertainment community including Jordan himself.
The announcement of this news is even more meaningful considering Jordan’s connection to Oakland. His relationship with the city runs deep as he starred in Bay Area native Ryan Coogler’s Fruitvale Station, which was based on the heartbreaking story of Oscar Grant, a young black man from Oakland whose death at the hands of a police officer was captured on video and sparked a modern movement to empower and protect young black men.
Coogler joined Jordan onstage at the event for the closing conversation, “Changing the Narrative: The Story We Tell, and Who Tells the Story,” about the impact of media on boys and young men of color, the importance of inclusivity and representation in storytelling in all forms, and how to help our boys and young men adopt a positive narrative about their abilities and be responsible for telling their own stories.
“Since Fruitvale Station, it’s been a dream of mine to use every opportunity I have to create pathways of success for young people,” says Jordan. “Outlier Fellows is a chance to find and cultivate a purposeful pipeline of talented and diverse minds from the next generation — the voices who will shape our community for years to come. Pulling up a seat to the table for the next group of cultural leaders is the greatest investment we can make as a community.”
Jordan and Outlier Society Productions aren’t just talking about inclusivity in Hollywood, they are taking action. It also was was one of the first to step up and publicly adopt the much buzzed about inclusion rider to tell stories rooted in underrepresented and culturally significant spaces.
The Black Panther star and his production banner have been making moves in 2019. In January, it was announced that Warner Bros made a first-look deal with Jordan and Outlier. Shortly after, they inked a first-look TV series deal with Amazon Studios for original series.