ordan Peele hopes his Oscar win for Best Original Screenplay on Sunday night, inspires young people from all backgrounds to pursue their dreams.
The 39-year-old won the prize for his directorial debut “Get Out,” becoming the first black person to triumph in the category, and confessed to reporters backstage that he almost didn’t become a writer/director because there were so few African-American role models to inspire him.
He hopes that young people watching at home will see his win and feel like they can achieve anything – just like he did when he saw Whoopi Goldberg pick up the Best Supporting Actress gong for Ghost in 1991.
“When the nominations for this came out I had this amazing feeling of looking at the 12-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,” he said.
“This is about paying it forward to the young people who might not believe they could achieve the highest honor in whatever craft they want to push for. You’re not a failure if you don’t get this, but I almost didn’t do it because I didn’t believe there was a place for me.”
He said he called Whoopi after receiving nominations for Best Original Screenplay, Best Director and Best Picture to thank her for inspiring someone who doubted himself to feel like they could achieve the honor, and added, “I hope that this does the same and inspires more people to use their voices.”
Peele added he feels proud to be a part of the achievements African-American filmmakers are making in Hollywood right now.
“We had Spike (Lee), we had John Singleton (before)… but they felt like the exception to the rule,” he said. “I’m so proud to be part of a time, the beginning of a movement, where I feel 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 clear by the work that Ava (DuVernay)’s doing, that Ryan (Coogler)’s doing, F. Gary Gray, Barry (Jenkins), that this is a very special time.”