By John Hanc
Say It Loud and Payin' the Price
Jordan Coleman, 16
Hackensack, New Jersey?
The films Say It Loud and Payin' the Price promote awareness about issues affecting teens.
Driving Force In 2007 and 2008, Jordan was the voice of Tyrone the Moose on the cartoon show The Backyardigans. The gig earned him some extra money. "At first I wanted to spend it on clothes and sneakers," he admits. "But my parents challenged me to do something good for the community instead." So, using his cash, his Hollywood connections and his mom Chrisena's resources as a reporter, he decided to make a movie with a message. "While I always loved school, I noticed a lot of my friends didn't do so well," he says. "By the time I was in the sixth grade, I was one of only three African-American boys in advanced classes. Other boys seemed to be more interested in being the next sports hero or superstar."
Call to Action Say It Loud emphasized the importance of staying in school—a critical issue in the African-American community, since less than half of boys graduate from high school. Chrisena helped Jordan contact the agents of influential African-American entertainers, athletes and politicians. Those people interested in his cause agreed to on-camera interviews. Jordan spoke with NBA stars Kobe Bryant and Vince Carter, former NFL great Michael Strahan, rapper Ludacris and politician and talk-show host Reverend Al Sharpton. ("Did you do well in school?" Jordan asked Kobe. "I got mostly A's and B's," the basketball player said. Jordan asked Ludacris, "What advice do you have for African-American boys?" His response: "Education is first and foremost.") AMC Theaters sponsored a seven-city tour of the film in conjunction with Kids Summer Movie Camp; the $1 kids' admission fee was donated to Roy Rogers' charity. (See film clips at sayitloudfilm.com.)
Now Playing Jordan's most recent film, Payin' the Price, is about dating violence, a topic he became interested in after the stir created by the 2009 arrest of Chris Brown for alleged domestic violence against singer Rihanna. "That's what all the kids were talking about," he says. "Boys and girls had such different feelings about it." Through his research, Jordan found that one in three teens is a victim of dating violence. "That's a staggering statistic," he says. He shot the film using the $10,000 he received for participating in MTV's America's Best Dance Crew. "I want everyone to understand how serious this is."