How Dylan Jordan Became the Face of ‘Dear Justyce’
When Woodward Academy student Dylan Jordan ’21 was looking for a book to read for his summer reading course as a junior, he chose Dear Martin, a novel that in ways mirrors his own life. It follows Justyce, a Black private school student who feels torn between the elite world of the school and the African-American experience and turns to the lessons of Martin Luther King Jr. for help.
As it turns out, the author of the book, Nic Stone, is a Woodward parent. She came to school for a meeting about the summer book reading, and during the course of the event, Dylan and three of his friends took a picture with Stone.
She was in the process of writing the sequel, Dear Justyce, and the publisher wanted to do a photo shoot with a real boy to stand in for Justyce.
“I went back to that picture, and Dylan stood out as the perfect guy,” Stone said. “And I was right: everyone loves that cover.”
The experience was a big shift for Dylan.
“I was not planning to get into creative arts before this experience, but I'm willing to try new things,” Dylan said, “so I pursued this opportunity once it was presented to me.”
Dylan also appeared as Justyce in a video trailer for the sequel. The video is online, but it also plays in bookstores and in the book display section of Target. Stone commented that she saw it play in a Target in Hawaii.
“Months had passed after my photoshoot for Dear Justyce, then Nic contacted my parents, informing them that Random House was interested in me participating in a trailer for the book,” Dylan said. “After seeing the final results of both the book cover and trailer, I instantly fell in love. Although I'm more of a reserved individual, I am now open to more creative experiences.”
Dylan said his favorite part of the process was getting to know Stone and reading her other books. It also has broadened his horizon about what he might pursue as a career.
“Initially, I was not fully sure what I wanted to pursue for my career, but now I know creative arts is something I am interested in,” he said.
There will be one more book in the series, due out in 2023, though Stone couldn’t reveal any more than that. She’s also excitedly looking forward to whatever Dylan does next.
“Dylan is a very resilient young man with a lot of ambition,” she said. “I can’t wait to see what kind of magic he makes in the world.”