Jordan Peele is having a good week.
Over the weekend, the director’s latest feature Us broke box office records and smashed all insider expectations; or, as he tells it, it had the “second-biggest opening for an original live-action film. That’s after Avatar. The stats get cooler when you say the thing that beat me.”
And last night, he received a standing ovation at the Upright Citizens Brigade Theatre in East Hollywood, where he gave hope to a room full of aspiring improv comedians (Peele, of course, got his start with MadTV, and later his own sketch comedy show with Keegan-Michael Key, Key and Peele), and spoke about his newly-fledged career as a director.
And whilst Peele covered a wide-range of topics – from how he controls his ego, to his marijuana use, to his unabashed love of The Twilight Zone – one comment in particular has stirred the pot online, concerning the auteur’s dedication to diversifying Hollywood.
“The way I look at it,” he explained, “I get to cast black people in my movies. I feel fortunate to be in this position where I can say to Universal, ‘I want to make a $20 million horror movie with a black family.’ And they say yes.”
“I don’t see myself casting a white dude as the lead in my movie. Not that I don’t like white dudes, but I’ve seen that movie.”
That statement drew whoops and cheers of affirmation from the crowd, prompting Jordan to continue: “It really is one of the best, greatest pieces of this story, is feeling like we are in this time — a renaissance has happened and proved the myths about representation in the industry are false.”
Us is in UK cinemas now, rated 15.
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