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Creatively connecting art, technology and culture to reimagine our collective futures–that is the essence of Afrofuturism. As far as I’m concerned, no single person embodies that brilliant aesthetic more flawlessly than actor Jonathan Majors.
The 33-year-old artist of the big screen has skyrocketed to the top of Hollywood stardom as his versatile film characters continue to prove that Black people don’t have to be type-casted to be successful.
The artistic movement known as Afrofuturism is ever-evolving, but its loosely defined as “a wide-ranging social, political and artistic movement that dares to imagine a world where African-descended peoples and their cultures play a central role in the creation of that world,” UCLA Magazine writer Delan Bruce wrote in 2020.
Racking up roles
Jonathan Majors has portrayed a Jim Crow-era Black man surviving racist cops and out-of-this-world monsters in the brilliant but short-lived series “Lovecraft Country”. The Hollywood hunk embodied heroic cowboy Nat Love, who saves the community from brutal bandits in the Afrocentric Netflix film “The Harder They Fall.” He’s portraying cosmic supervillain Kang the Conqueror in the next phase of Marvel films, and portraying a boxing rival with a complicated past in “Creed III.”
Only 33, Majors has already proven it’s possible to depict the vibrant diversity of the struggles and triumphs of the culture with an artful, futuristic lens.
And he’s doing it flawlessly.
“I think people treat you the way you let them treat you; I am a private individual. I just keep my head down. It’s about the work, how you do your work,” Majors said in a recent interview with Vanity Fair. “I don’t bother nobody. I have no interest in the fuckery of the industry. I’m in bed by twelve o’clock,” he added.
Who is Jonathan Majors?
Film credits for Jonathan Majors date back to 2011, according to IMDB, but his journey into the world of acting began much earlier.
Raised by a single mom, Majors was born in California but moved to Dallas at a young age after his father disappeared. He didn’t reconnect with him until 17 years later.
Getting in and out of trouble as a teenager, Majors grew up in a neighborhood filled with negative and positive influences.
“The way I grew up, the people I grew up around, drug dealers, killers, murderers, everybody was just coming out of jail. Everybody had an ankle monitor on. So I knew the complexity of the guys I grew up with,” Majors told Entertainment Weekly earlier this month.
He eventually gravitated toward Heath Ledger’s portrayal of the Joker in “The Dark Knight”. Majors could relate to morally complex characters labeled as villians due to his own environment, and he eventually sought refuge in the world of theatre.
He went on to earn a bachelor’s degree at the University of North Carolina School of the Arts before earning a master’s degree in Fine Arts from Yale School of Drama, where he performed in five theatre productions.
For Majors, all publicity is good publicity
First coined by critic Mark Dery in his 1993 essay “Black to the Future,” the term Afrofuturism was first embodied by famous science fiction writer Octavia E. Butler, a Black woman who blazed an afrocentric trail in an industry dominated by White men.
Today, Jonathan Majors has picked up the torch left behind by Butler as he brings rich, diverse, and other-worldly characters to the big screen.
Even criticism doesn’t seem to phase the rising star. After Ebony Magazine published a cover featuring Majors in a fluffy pink coat, an army of sexually insecure kinfolk blasted Hollywood for attempting to “emasculate” Black men.
Never mind the fact that killer cops and our racist criminal legal system needs no help making captives and martyrs of Black men. Never mind the fact that some of the greatest Black musical artists dressed in much more flamboyant outfits, or the fact that Stylist Alexander-Julian Gibbson, a noted anime fan, took inspiration from One Piece manga character Donquixote Doflamingo for the outfit.
And never mind the fact that nobody forced Majors to wear the outfit. Facts didn’t matter to the many trolls outraged over Black excellence.
Unbossed and unbothered
It didn’t phase Majors, though. “It’s always good to make a ruckus,” he said in response after receiving over 30 text messages about it.
For his part, social media influencer KevOnStage gave his own rebuke of the homophobic outrage.
“Jonathan Majors’ last five movies were the most masculine ever. He was a cowboy, he was a fighter pilot, he was a body builder. He’s Kang the Conqueror, a villain. And he’s a boxer. How much more masculine can you be,” Kevin said.
Ultimately, there’s no telling how high Majors’ stardom will rise.
He’s opening our eyes to reimagine our own potential, perfectly embodying every aspect of Afrofuturism.
“I’m trying to give as many bastions of hope for those who were like me, man,” Majors told EW. “We are extremely complex if we allow ourselves to be, and if you can be touched in certain places that you don’t even know, you’ll be better.