by Moxye Staff

The First-Time Filmmaker Just Became the First Black Person to Win an Oscar for Original Screenplay.

It only took one film for Jordan Peele to become an Oscar winner. On Sunday night, the writer-director picked up the best-original-screenplay statuette for Get Out, the social thriller that dominated the awards cycle for its acute commentary on race in America. He is the first black screenwriter to win an award in this category.

“This means so much to me,” Peele said. “I stopped writing this movie about 20 times because I thought it was impossible.”

He continued, saying that he eventually persevered because he knew that if it did get made, “people would hear it and people would see it.”

“I want to dedicate this to all the people who raised my voice,” he said, thanking fans, Universal, and Blumhouse. He also thanked his wife, the comedian Chelsea Peretti, “who supported me through this whole process,” and his mother, “who taught me to love, even in the face of hate.”

Once backstage, he tweeted something a little less formal:

“I Just Won an Oscar. WTF?!?” – Jordan Peele

Peele’s Get Out was up against The Big Sick, Lady Bird, The Shape of Water, and Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri. Get Out, thanks to its pop-culture appeal and astounding social relevance, was an early front-runner, and was nominated for four awards overall: best picture, best director (for Peele), best original screenplay (Peele), and best actor (Daniel Kaluuya).

Back when it was released last February, the film quickly picked up steam and punctured the zeitgeist, morphing from a well-received low-budget horror hit to a serious awards-season contender. Peele has spent the last few months stumping for the film and picking up barrels of awards from various critics circles and the Directors Guild of America. The social thriller, about a black man who visits his white girlfriend’s family and discovers that things are not all they seem, resonated with audiences and made about $255 million worldwide.

Peele is just the fourth person of color to be nominated in that category. Suzanne de Passe was the first (for Lady Sings the Blues in 1972), followed by Spike Lee in 1989 (for Do The Right Thing), and John Singleton in 1991, for Boyz n the Hood.

Only 12 people of color were nominated at the Oscars this year, and while that is an improvement on past years, it’s far from perfect. But the fact that the Academy is finally starting to reward original films that elevate Black voices and performances — a trend that started with Moonlight’s win for Best Picture in 2017 — sends the message that perhaps things are starting to change.

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