In the upcoming aerial war epic, Devotion, Emmy-nominated star Jonathan Majors stars as the real-life hero Jesse Brown, the first Black naval aviator and the best aviator in the history of the branch.
Directed by J.D. Dillard, the film chronicles Brown’s valiant sacrifice to his country and relationships with his fellow wingmen. But it’s the inner relationship Brown has with himself that’s perhaps the most potent of all. In some of the most powerful moments in the film, Majors’ Brown recites a handful of racist slurs and hurtful words people have piled on him throughout his lifetime while looking in the mirror, before going on to successfully complete parts of his mission.
That act of turning life’s negatives into fuel for future success is one that Majors reveals he knows all too well.
“I don’t know where to start. Outside of just being a young, Black boy growing up in America. That’s that, but there are other elements to it,” Majors explained to The Root. “Getting bullied in school, getting called ‘skinny kid,’ ‘you can’t sing,’ ‘you can’t act,’ ‘big nose.’ Big head, you can take. But big nose? That hurts, that hurts. It’s little things like that—which are big things when you’re a kid. Getting beat up on. But I used it. [I] grew up without my dad. You use those things. You remember them. And I remember them, every day.”
He continued, “Those things haunt you and you can turn those ghosts into spirits. And those spirits can protect you, but it takes work. And on a bad day, on a dark night on a Tuesday, they’ll come up. And I won’t have anywhere to put’em. But then you think about what it is you’re here to do and I go, ‘Yeah, that’s right. In spite of that, I’m gonna make this happen.’”
Devotion, starring Majors, Glen Powell, Christina Jackson, and Joe Jonas hits theaters Nov. 23.