For Jordan Peele, This Is Bigger Than An Oscar: ‘This Award Is Bigger Than Me’
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For Jordan Peele, This Is Bigger Than An Oscar: ‘This Award Is Bigger Than Me’

Jordan Peele made Get Out in 23 days for $4.5 million dollars. It was a script that he kept seeing in his head but was uncertain about putting on screen. In fact, Peele was nervous about directing the film because he wasn’t sure that his vision would translate onscreen. When it finally came to fruition, his debut film Get Out; a stunning look at race in present-day America told through the horror genre shattered everyone’s expectations.

Last night, Peele took home the Oscar for Best Original Screenplay at the 90th Academy Awards. Standing backstage after the show, he was euphoric. Clothing his brassy gold statue, the writer/director seemed almost in disbelief.

“I didn’t know how important this was,” he marveled. “I always wanted this, but the campaign is grueling and there are times when I questioned what it was all about. You’re watching your last jump shot for a year, and as an artist that doesn’t feel right, it doesn’t feel right to be complacent. When the nominations came together for (Get Out), I had this amazing feeling of looking at a twelve-year-old that had this burning in my guts for this type of validation, and I instantly realized that an award like this is much bigger than me. This is about paying it forward to other people who might not believe they could achieve the highest honor in whatever craft they are trying to push for. You’re not a failure if you don’t get (an Oscar), but I almost didn’t do it because I didn’t believe that there was a place for me.”

Now more than ever, Peele sees our present time as a moment for Black artists to speak their truth — and he wants to be an example for those who come after him. “It’s a renaissance, ” he remarked.” I almost never became a director because there was such a shortage of role models. We had Spike (Lee), we had John Singleton, we had, Melvin and Mario Van Peebles, but they felt like the exception to the rule. I’m so proud to be apart of a time — at the beginning of a movement where it feels like the best films in every genre are being brought to me by my fellow Black directors. It’s very special, and I think that goes for all areas of inclusion, but it’s quite clear in the work that Ava (DuVernay) is doing, that Ryan (Coogler) is doing, F. Gary Gray, Barry (Jenkins), this is a very special time.”

Aramide A Tinubu is a film critic and entertainment writer. As a journalist, her work has been published in EBONY, JET, ESSENCE, Bustle, The Daily Mail, IndieWire and Blavity. She wrote her Master’s thesis on Black Girlhood and Parental Loss in Contemporary Black American Cinema. She’s a cinephile, bookworm, blogger and NYU + Columbia University alum. You can find her reviews on Rotten Tomatoes, read her blog at: www.chocolategirlinthecity.com or tweet her @midnightrami

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