Serena Williams and Michael B. Jordan kicked off the first night of Vanity Fair’s inaugural Cocktail Hour, Live! event Tuesday, with a spirited conversation about their respective careers and upcoming projects—as well as the news that Williams has signed a first-look deal with Amazon Studios. “We’re working to create some scripted and nonscripted stuff,” Williams told Jordan, “just bring really interesting stories that really touch the heart to the screen.”
After a few opening remarks from Vanity Fair editor in chief Radhika Jones, the talk began with an exclusive preview of the forthcoming Amazon Prime film Without Remorse, starring Jordan as one of Tom Clancy’s best-known heroes: fictional former Navy SEAL turned spy John Kelly.
“I’m pretty excited about this one,” a beaming Jordan told Williams after the clip aired. He both stars in and produced the project through his company Outlier Society, which Jordan launched in 2016. “Outlier’s mission has always been to tell diverse stories,” he said. “In choosing what projects I want to produce but also be the star of, I wanted a high-octane action movie that was commercial, that was international,“ he says, “And this property, this I.P. was the perfect vehicle for me.”
Williams then revealed that she’ll soon be venturing into producing as well, via her Amazon deal. The athlete has already begun her new venture, telling Jordan that she’s hoping to produce feel-good projects like a docuseries about the best female tennis player of all time: Serena Williams. The show, she said, will follow Williams, telling her story “through my eyes and through my lens.” While Williams admitted she’s slightly nervous about this new venture, she said she’s also excited by the prospect of bringing “really special stories to film and to people’s homes.”
A consummate professional, Williams asked Jordan if he had any advice for her as the more seasoned producer of the two. “Build a really strong team around you,” he said. “When you start to assemble that core group, they have to be a reflection of you and your taste and the things that you like.” His second piece of advice for the 23-time Grand Slam winner? “Be fearless.”
The two were aligned about almost everything during their one-on-one—except ice baths. After Jordan said that he learned to love them while training for and filming the Creed films, Williams made her stance on dunking herself into freezing water very clear. “I’m so anti-ice bath,” Williams said. “I’m just like, No! I’m okay. Three-hour match, I’m fine.”
While Williams doesn’t see herself taking an ice bath, she does see herself acting in front of a camera—though maybe not in the near future. “I don’t know if I have the time, to be honest,” she told Jordan. When Williams does grace the silver screen, though she wants to take a page out of Jordan’s Without Remorse playbook. “I would play an action hero,“ she said, ”because, clearly, I should be an action hero.”
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