“Yes, that’s the real guy from “Black Panther” a mother told her young son outside Dave & Buster’s, announcing the entrance of Michael B. Jordan who had just stepped onto the orange carpet with his mother Donna at Saturday’s 3rd annual MBJAM, an event he hosts to benefit Lupus LA.
Though the actor plays the villain in that Marvel film, he is quickly becoming known as a hero off-screen. In recent years, the actor has used his celebrity to advocate for voter registration — and Georgia gubernatorial candidate Stacey Abrams — in addition to adopting an inclusion rider for all entertainment projects he produces. But lupus is a cause especially dear to the actor’s heart since his mother was diagnosed with the disease when he was young.
“It’s a huge deal honestly. If all of us use our platform to get the word out there, it’s a huge deal,” Jordan told Variety, explaining that lupus is something that a lot of people don’t know enough about. “I think education and bringing awareness to it is half the battle, and then I think once it becomes not normalized, but since it becomes more common, I think people will start to gravitate towards it and try to fix it.”
“If you find just causes to get behind, that really speak to your heart and your soul and to be able to use a platform to support that is a great tool to have,” he continued.
Guests including Jamie Foxx, Storm Reid, Lilly Singh, Omari Hardwick, NBA Star Kyrie Irving, Miles Brown, Niles Fitch and Kellie Martin joined the actor to support the cause. Gymnast Laurie Hernandez also took a break from training for the 2020 Olympics to attend and meet Jordan for the first time: “We just want to make sure everybody knows, you’re not alone.”
“Once you get that platform [of celebrity], it’s an assumed responsibility that you have to pick and choose causes and different ways you’re going to speak about the things you feel need to be heard,” she told Variety. “And Michael’s used that to talk about lupus and about his mom, and I think that’s really such a sweet thing. It’s inspiring.”
Inside the event, emcee Nick Cannon shared stories about his own battle with the disease. Cannon told the crowd of nearly 500 — including 250 “lupus warriors” and their families — that Lupus LA Ambassador Toni Braxton was one of the first to reach out to him after his diagnosis with lupus nephritis in 2012.
“Knowing that someone was there that understood what I was just beginning to go through, someone who’s been on that journey with lupus and was able to let me know about the ups and downs — the times when you can’t get out of bed and you can’t move or you can’t stay out in the sun as much as you want to — the fact that she would check up on me every time I would be in the hospital, it went beyond just a colleague or someone in the industry that cared,“ Cannon shared. “I consider her family.”
Cannon also shared that lupus brought him and Jordan together, praising the philanthropic star for his work, saying “the fact that someone of his statue, someone of his prominence…that he takes that light and shines it on something that doesn’t often get a lot of attention” deserves recognition.
Then, alongside his family, Jordan spoke to the crowd about their personal connection to the organization: “When we moved to LA as a family and needed resources to help her, Lupus LA was the first place we turned. They’ve been awesome to us, so we wanted to give back in a meaningful way. That’s when MBJAM was born.” After presenting the inaugural Jordan Family Kindred Hearts award to lupus patient Ashley Ramirez and her family, he joined Cannon and Braxton to shoot a round of hoops for the cameras and fans.
But back to superheroes, though the actor isn’t set to return for “Black Panther 2” [Spoiler Alert: he loses his final confrontation with T’Challa], the actor will reprise his role as Killmonger in the just-announced Disney Plus animated series “What If…” which explores alternate storylines for MCU characters. So what does Jordan want to explore? “I’m always down for a prequel, to see…where he came from up until that point that we kind of saw him [in,] at his introduction in “Black Panther.”