By Taki S. Raton
At the age of 13, this young filmmaker was for three years the voice of Tyrone the Moose in Nickelodeon’s Emmy Award- Winning animated series ‘The Backyardigans.’
The voice over artist would eventually receive a certificate of recognition from the Academy of Television Arts & Science for his work on ‘The Backyardigans.’
He is young, gifted, and Black. Now 17 and a senior at Hackensack High School in Hackensack, New Jersey, Jordan Coleman is an award winning filmmaker, actor, author, activist, honor role student, and athlete.
Jordan’s mom, Chrisena Coleman, a former Daily news reporter covering entertainment as well as the courts in the Bronx, challenged him to use some of his savings from his cartoon opportunity to make a positive impact on his community.
As founder of Just Between Girlfriends, a philanthropy and social group, Coleman’s mother always taught her sons the importance of giving back.
“From the time he was 4, he went with us, doing clothes drives and school drives where we collected items for kids who didn’t have toys or school supplies,” she is quoted in a Carrie Stetler’s June 5, 2009 New Jersey Star Ledger writing.
Coleman adds that “We would take him on the street with us into Newark, East Orange, and in Brooklyn to let him see things for himself. Instead of us giving the items to a program, would go on the streets and pass out the bags.”
His father is New York State’s Senator Eric Adams. Adams and Coleman split up when Jordan was 2, although Adams has maintained a close relationship with Jordan and his brother Justin. Both Adams and Coleman instilled in the boys early on the significance of education and sighting a vision of success in their future.
“Harvard and Yale, definitely not jail,” Chrisena Coleman sternly reminds AFL-CIO Milwaukee Labor Press publishes final issue her sons.
Given his Nickelodeon experience and the training and exposure of his parents, young Jordan during his 13th year was inspired to write, direct and produce ‘Say It Loud!’ a youth film exploring the importance of education for African American boys. Even then at sixth grade while a student at Hackensack Middle School, Jordan was keenly aware of the 2006 study by the Manhattan Institute for Policy Research noting that nationally, only 48 percent of African American males earn a high school diploma.
According to Stetler, Jordan witnessed evidence of the challenged performance of his fellow African American male students firsthand. He noticed that even on the elementary level, he watched Black classmates growing discouraged with schooling and selecting instead to pin their dreams on becoming a star athlete or entertainer. “They weren’t really focusing on schoolwork, “says Jordan in the Ledger. “They were focusing on being the next NBA star, or rapper or celebrity.”
With contact assistance from his mom, Jordan wrote dozens of letters asking to interview his subjects. “I’m writing to you because you have done something wonderful in your lifetime,” he writes in his opening remarks.
To remind young people that school is important, Jordan went straight to the source with his microphone and camera interviewing celebrities and civic leaders. He was able to reveal, as cited in Stetler, that Kobe Bryant speaks three languages, Nets star Vince Carter was not allowed to play basketball unless he kept his grades up and that rapper Master P was “whupped” if he got a “C” on his report card. Jordan spent nearly a year making the film.
“We want our children to have more than what we had. So I was glad to see this young man doing his thing, and I was glad to take the time and support his project. Jordan is phenomenal. He has completed a really big project for a kid his age,” says Master P.
Newark Mayor Cory Booker, yet another interviewee, said in the Ledger that “He really impressed my staff. Nobody was born with perfect gifts. Everyone has to work at it. I’m proud to have been a part of this film.”
Coleman’s father says of his son that, “I think Jordan is one of the many gems that go unnoticed, particularly in communities of color, every day. There are many young boys and girls contributing in their own small way.” AMC Theaters picked up ‘Say It Loud’ for a limited release through the Kids Summer Music Camp initiative.
He would go a step further with this project with a self-published book, ‘Say It Loud: the Reel Deal & Behind the Scenes Stories.’
As cited in a “Say It Loud Film” descriptor, Jordan for his creative endeavors has received letters of commendation from United States President Barack Obama, U.S. Secretary of Education Arnie Duncan, Congressman Steve Rothman, New Jersey Governor Chris Christie and a host of local politicians for his efforts to promote the importance of education.
He has spoken at numerous high-end events to include an education rally during President Obama’s Inauguration Weekend, 100 Black Men and Urban league conferences and at schools and churches across the country.
His second film ‘Payin’ the Price’ looks at teen dating violence. Jordan was inspired to make a film about teen dating violence after the 2009 Chris Brown/Rihanna incident. He said that this was the first time that he and many of his peers had heard about domestic violence.
Jordan was named one of the 25 Most Influential People in Our Children’s Lives by Children’s Health magazine. He won the 2011 HBO Best Feature Film competition at the Martha’s Vineyard African American Film Festival with his film ‘Payin’ The Price’ and in that same year was awarded a 2011 Global Teen Leader. The talented filmmaker was also a 2010 Prudential Spirit of Community Award winner and a finalist for the 2009 Do Something Awards which recognizes young people who make a difference.
He was also featured on CNN’s Young People Who Rock series and has appeared on NBC, CBS, and CSpan. In addition to the Star Ledger, his story has been featured in the New York Daily News, Philadelphia Inquirer, The Record, Miami Herald, Boston Globe, Jet, New Jersey Monthly and in Black Enterprise.
For his talent in dance, Jordan appeared on America’s Best Dance Crew Champions for Charity Show where he won $10,000. His photo and story line has additionally appeared on 40 million bags of Doritos. Jordan is working on a script for his next film ‘Just In Case’ which deals with sexting.
A competitor also in sports, he plays football and basketball and in 2013 plans to attend college to major in Communications and Film.