Photograph: Getty Images; Collage: Gabe Conte
One of my favorite scenes in Creed is when Rocky (played by Sylvester Stallone) brings Adonis Creed (played by Michael B. Jordan) in front of a mirror, asks him to throw a couple of punches, and explains to him that he—and no one else—is his toughest opponent.
I love this scene as a metaphor for your own health and wellness—it starts with you, so every day, you've gotta look in the mirror, decide it matters, and keep up with the practice every day. To do that, you need support and tools. When I got word that Jordan was getting into the wellness game with a new sea moss drink, Moss, to act as a tool to support one’s health, it immediately piqued my interest, and I wanted to know more.
With the ever-expanding wellness space, it’s still rare to see someone young, Black, and culturally relevant find their footing in a totally new way. There are no other major sea moss drinks on the market, and the fact that Jordan sincerely wanted to develop a product to help people (rather than attach his name and turn a quick buck), resonates with me.
I chatted with Jordan about our shared Jersey heritage, lessons he learned while going through physical transformations of his own, philanthropy, meditation, and how blending his own sea moss in the kitchen turned into a product he wanted to bottle and share with the world.
With all my interviews, I like to provide a framework and get to the root of it. Why do you even care about health and wellness at the end of the day?
Jordan: Oh, man. I think at the end of the day, health and wellness is the root of longevity and our productivity. How we treat our bodies and our minds determines how effective we are going to be and how positive we are going to be. Life is short, time goes by really fast, and you should try to be here as long as you can to make an impact, you know?
I think growing up, especially in places like Newark or places that don't really have access to a lot of healthy options all the time, I think we get conditioned and we pick up unhealthy habits at an early age. As you start to get more information and you start to learn more about yourself, about what you put into your body, you want to start making better decisions. I've been on a quest for things to give me an edge, especially in my career field—looking for ways to continue to be healthy.
The schedule is very intense. You're not sleeping a lot. You're always on the road. You don't have access to a lot of things that are really healthy for you all the time. My mom also had a lot of health issues. She has lupus, so her immune system has always been compromised for as long as I can remember, and she is always trying to find ways to be healthy overall.
Nah, it's super helpful. I grew up in Jersey, too, so shout out 9-7-3, I'm from South Orange.
There it is!
Yeah, man, let's go. I love that. Speaking about childhood a little bit, 'cause you definitely come a long way. Growing up in Jersey, what was one of the biggest takeaways that opened your eyes to this health stuff and instilled the desire to give back?
I don't know if I had the mindset at that time to really connect those dots because that's what you're surrounded by. That's the norm. I didn't even realize or understand that other things even existed. You see Chicken Shack to Chicken Shack. You've got the fast food joints there; you've got the bodegas.
Obviously, always being in sports and things of that nature, you get a little bit of guidance from your coaches, and I was lucky enough to have my parents at home be a little more aware and knowledgeable of certain things. But I think it wasn't until I started to travel a little bit more and get outside what was immediately around me to see other people's routines—what they were eating, reading up on magazines, and things of that nature—[that health became a priority].
Then the internet comes around; you have more information that's starting to get to you. I sound old! I think it wasn't until I saw the access I was getting to, through traveling through other people's recommendations, I was like, Oh, snap, people do this. They're drinking these supplements, these vitamins.
There is a whole other level of nutrition and supplements that can really help your body be the best version of itself. I started traveling young, so I think once I started getting into that environment and seeing other people, being around pro athletes, being around those types of things, it really sparked that eventually, I want to be on a path where I can make things and help create products that could ultimately help my community that may not have access.
Yeah. I mean, health literacy, you hit it on the head. Talk about that journey a little bit because all the different movies and shows you've been in are critically acclaimed, but then, your roles bring in a little bit more of your physique with Creed, Black Panther, and Without Remorse. What was that like for you? As someone who's really physically impressive now, was there a little bit of struggle in the beginning that people don't know about? Keep it honest. A lot of people out there are trying to get healthier, but at first, they're really overwhelmed. If they see somebody like you, they may think it just comes naturally. Was that the case?
Nah, not even, bro. I mean, you see me in high school, I was super skinny; I couldn't really gain weight at all. Practicing basketball you're not really lifting like that. Coaches always made you join the track team to get in shape for basketball season. Doing things like that, that was kind of the most education I really had around fitness, and obviously what I used to see on TV and movies, and all these other things growing up, it's like, Wow, okay, there are levels to it. For the roles, I wanted my body to change with the roles that I played; I didn't want to look the same in everything.
The early stages were just the bare essentials. Doing push-ups and sit-ups. Eating what I thought was healthy, you know? Oh, man, I got to put on weight—that means I've got to eat a lot of food. I think I was doing it the wrong way for a long time. This was back in the day when you couldn't go on Instagram. People weren't just given fitness routines and menus and diets; they weren't easily accessible at that time.
When I got a trainer, I got a chance to learn from the inside out exactly how your body responds to certain things and the consistency of that, how important water is, and how important sleeping is for changing your body. I created a realistic approach to getting in shape for somebody like myself, but then the average Joe, as well, no pun intended, to be able to take incremental steps towards whatever their fitness goals are. I think seeing somebody like myself in a movie like Creed or something like that, they got to know I trained intensely three times a day or two times a day for six or seven months, and that was my job—to get in shape and to look like that.
So that's super important to not give any false hope, but at the same time, if you put that same type of dedication and discipline into incrementally getting yourself into a better place, you can look like that, too, you know what I'm saying? It's achievable; you've just gotta have the discipline and know what direction to go in.
That's facts. It appears you're a little bit of a behind-the-scenes guy who lets the work speak for itself, and the work is always quality.…
Of course, and with what you're doing next, why did you start this venture of Moss? Why do you think it was so key? What are you hoping to achieve with this new drink?
Yeah, I think for me, I had a personal relationship to it, and I was looking for things and trying to find things that give me an edge, that would kind of help me in the unrealistic times of shooting 15- or 16-hour days in the freezing cold, doing stunts, not really sleeping, but still having to get up and perform and do these scenes and these action sequences. You do that for years, and as you get older, you're looking for supplements to replenish your body.
I stumbled upon sea moss, and at the time, it was right before the pandemic hit. I started trying it and I felt a difference, and I put it as part of my routine early. This is like in the early stage where I'm washing the sea moss and soaking it overnight and putting a little bit of lime in it. You know, I was taking the sea moss gel in the beginning, but I definitely felt a big difference. I became obsessed with it. How do I make this palatable? How do I make this enjoyable and accessible?
From there, I started making smoothies, mixing sea moss with fruit and vegetables, and making shakes out of it. I started adding different liquids to it, supplements, et cetera. It just kept evolving, and then I got a good partner in Dr. Smood, and I let the pros be the pros and do what they had to do in order to really make it into a beverage that could be sold around the United States and around the world. I just saw the opportunity because I felt like I wanted to share this secret—that maybe that wasn't such a secret—with everybody because I felt like it really helped.
That's a good point. I mean, what I find interesting about it is I tried to look for other sea moss drinks. There's nothing really there. My mom's from Trinidad, so she's been making sea moss my whole life...
The Irish Moss drink, or do you do the gel, too?
She would make the gel. She never made a drink out of it. She would just always give me a mason jar of gel every month. It's crazy. But with that and you trying to expand it as a Black man, I really think that's important too. Within our respective communities, is there something specific you're trying to possibly help achieve, or is there a positive message you want to give Black folks or underserved communities about how to take care of themselves?
Yeah, I think it starts with us. I think we have to do what we can to support our bodies and our immune system because the things that seem so easy or so accessible a lot of times aren't really the best for you. Looking at that label and reading and understanding what you're putting in your body and paying attention to what you put in your body, I think is really important nowadays.
As you know, resources throughout the world are changing, and our world is changing—our agriculture, our produce, and our industries are evolving, and I think we really have to pay attention to what's put in our bodies. Like you said, your mom's been doing it; that's generational. I'm pretty sure your grandmother, your grandfather, or somebody taught her how to do it, or her aunts, her cousins, and these are things that've been passed down from generation to generation for years, centuries.
Sea moss has been around. Looking back to the planet and to the earth for ways to keep us healthy, it's really important. As a way to blend both worlds together, something that's easy and accessible, but also really good for you. I think those outliers exist, and I wanted this one to be a part of that. I felt this was one of those things.
Respect. That's important. I do think there's a lot, especially within the Black community, where we have this innate knowledge, but we don't put it out in a product. Entrepreneurship is important. But past entrepreneurship, it seems like you're doing a lot of social good and philanthropic work. I'd love for you to talk about the community and philanthropic efforts you're doing through Moss, if you want to give some light to that.
Honestly, when you're doing anything with the ocean and the environment, you want to make sure you're paying respect, and you're giving back to that. Whatever we can do to help in the global effort to clean up our oceans is extremely important. It affects so many people around the world. We gotta take responsibility for the planet that we live on. Trying to live up to the Oceanic Global Blue Standard is really, really important to us. Our product definitely checks that box. And Pacific Town Club and Tea Party 4 Black Girls to start with a few, we've already committed to giving back $25,000 to those organizations.
For any product or any brand that I deal with, there's always a community give-back element to it. These brands benefit so much from our communities and our culture. There's gotta be a mandatory pitch back into those same communities in a real way, and sometimes that comes in the form of writing the checks, sometimes that comes in the form of having brick and mortar and leave-behinds in these communities.
When that campaign is over, and the advertising is done, that community still has something to hang their hat on; that they have something that they can go back to, and they're getting more educated, they're getting more access moving forward, as best they can. Those are things that I've realized as I've started to work with brands at an earlier age, and as I've gotten more successful and had more leverage, I can kinda demand and ask for these things.
So, of course, when a product is mine and if the brand is mine, I'm making sure that I go back and do as much as I can to replenish those waters and replenish those communities that help support the brand.
Love that. Real quick to close. I've seen you mention it, but nobody really asks you about it. Why is your meditation and mindfulness practice so important to you?
Because it all starts with your mind, it all starts with your thoughts. And if you don't have a clear mind, you can't have clear thoughts. You can't make clear decisions. Nobody wants to make bad decisions, you know? I think meditation and starting with your peace allows you to be the best version of yourself moving forward. When the world's going to throw a bunch of things at you, you’re not always going to be happy, you know? You have obstacles thrown your way, and you want to be able to think clearly and not emotionally sometimes.
Getting your mind right, sitting still, breathing, clearing your mind of all the distractions that we run across daily, from our phones, from the TV to our music to our entertainment, we're constantly being fed things all the time. To get a nice little clean slate and reset your brain, I think is super important to your overall health, your mental health. It's important, man.
Originally Appeared on GQ