In This Issue
This month, we're heating things up with a steamy shoot featuring one of today’s brightest stars, Jonathan Majors. In just a few short years, the brilliant, charismatic actor has captured our hearts and made an indelible mark on Hollywood with a stellar run of standout roles that bring to life the untold epics of Black America. On the heels of premiering the acclaimed Magazine Dreams at the 2023 Sundance Film Festival, Majors is gearing up for the release of two blockbuster films—Ant Man and the Wasp: Quantumania, which hits theaters on February 17, followed by Creed III, debuting in March.
The creative inspiration for EBONY’s February cover shoot explores the idea of personal expression as it relates to Black masculinity. A true artist, Majors represents a new guard of talented actors who are broadening the landscape of Black manhood in visual culture through bold roles that challenge traditional archetypes. From 2019's The Last Black Man in San Francisco to the HBO series Lovecraft Country, Majors gravitates towards nuanced characters with complex storylines. "One of my many objectives in my work is to help," he says. "And what I'm trying to do with my work is to show that nothing is a monolith—not Blackness, not maleness, not [even] comic book villains. Nothing's more diverse than the fact that the Big Bad of the MCU is a young Black boy from Texas."
"The creative inspiration for EBONY’s February cover shoot explores the idea of personal expression as it relates to Black masculinity. A true artist, Majors represents a new guard of talented actors who are broadening the landscape of Black manhood in visual culture through bold roles that challenge traditional archetypes."-Marielle Bobo
While combing through inspiration images that might help inform the visuals for our shoot, the EBONY team came across Sports Illustrated’s 2001 Allen Iverson cover story photographed by French lensman Gerard Rancinen. Of the iconic shoot Rancinen exclusively told EBONY that it took several attempts to finally get the all-star on board. "Allen [was hesitant] to do the shoot, so I was sent to him from Paris as one sends a kamikaze. After he saw my portfolio he asked many questions about portraits of famous people. [When it was over] we ended up having a beer together at the Philadelphia Stadium bar while his colleagues were playing."
In the images, AI appears shirtless, with multiple tattoos and a diamond Jesus piece on display. Wearing his trademark cornrows and low-slung basketball shorts, the basketball legend holds bouquets of dried roses. Powerful yet poetic, sensual yet full of swagger, the photo embodies all of the complexities and magic of Black manhood.
At a time when NBA owners and front-office personnel provided little leeway for Black players to express their identity, Iverson transcended labels and societal constraints by pioneering the modern athlete's ability for self-expression. One might say that Majors is blazing similar trails for expressions of Black masculinity in today's visual culture.
In EBONY Photo Director Keith Major's re-imagining of the photo, Majors reclines amid a sea of dried rose petals at his feet. Wearing a beaded necklace, distressed high-tops and tie-dyed shorts, the actor is Black swag personified.
"Nothing is a monolith—not Blackness, not maleness, not [even] comic book villains. Nothing's more diverse than the fact that the Big Bad of the MCU is a young Black boy from Texas."-Jonathan Majors
In his EBONY cover story, we give the rising star his flowers as he ushers in a new generation of Black excellence in cinema. The heartthrob bares all and gets personal about his love for the craft, what he's learned from the legends of film, and how a young Black boy from Texas became the most wanted actor in Hollywood.
Check out our cover story, behind-the-scenes videos, and exclusive content around his films. Plus, our special awards season preview and a larger look at other Black creatives changing Hollywood. Click here for the full digital cover experience.