Jordan Peele’s Race for Equality in Film


(Image via Business Insider)

Jelani Dupon, Writer

Jordan Peele is an American comedian, actor, and producer. He started his career as a cast member on the comedy series Mad TV, a show with spoofs of movies, TV shows, and music videos. Mad TV aired for fourteen years, from late 1995 to the middle of 2009. Peele worked there for five years. Peele got a big jump in his career when he starred alongside Keegan-Michael Key in the comedy series Key and Peele that lasted from the beginning of 2012 to the end of 2015. Jordan Peele started to get serious with directing around three years ago, when he released the hit thriller Get Out, which starred Daniel Kaluuya (Chris) and Allison Williams (Rose) as the two main characters The film won him multiple awards such as the Academy Award for Best Original Screenplay, NAACP Image Award for Outstanding Actor in a Motion Picture, NAACP Image Award for Outstanding Directing in a Motion Picture, Empire Award for Best Horror, and the film is rated 98% from Rotten Tomatoes. Although this is impressive, it has been done before, and horror films have done better in the past. What makes this film so iconic is that the main character was African-American and the main plot of the story involved African-Americans, including a side character. Since most horror movies or movies, in general, have a caucasian main character and side characters, it was a big deal when his movie got the success that hasn’t been done in that manner before. Jordan Peele also became the first African-American to win an Oscar for original screenplay. Peele released a second movie, the thriller Us, a movie about blood-driven doppelgangers, which had an almost completely African-American cast. The filmed starred Lupita Nyong’o (Adelaide Wilson) as the mother, accompanied by her husband (Winston Duke) and two kids Evan Alex (Jason) and Shahadi Wright Joseph (Umbrae).

Jordan Peele is single-handedly changing the movie industry, and it stretches beyond horror. Even though African-Americans make up a small portion of the 327 million people in the United States, it is completely fair to say that they aren’t getting enough roles and main roles in films. A good example of Jordan Peele’s influence was shown by a study that said in 2018, sixteen top-grossing movies out of 100 had black directors, which is ten more than in 2017, which had only six top-grossing movies out of 100 with black directors. There isn’t any definitive evidence that suggests that Peele is responsible for this jump, but it is pretty coincidental that this jump came between his two record-breaking horror films. 

Peele is already back to his craft, with his next movie, Candyman, premiering June 12th of this year. Just like the previous movies, most of the cast is African-American. Some of them include Yahya Abdul-Mateen II, Nathan Stewart Jarrett, and Tony Todd as the Candyman. Jordan has said that he never thinks he will have a Caucasian actor as the main character of one of his movies because they’re the main character of most classics movies and he wants to change this. Peele is a big ambassador for diversity and thinks it’s important to have that diversity in something that most people come together to watch, like movies. This is a big step in film and has guaranteed him a spot in the Directing Hall of Fame.