It is no surprise that Jordan Peele has taken the movie industry by storm and gone where no other Black man has gone before by conquering the horror film genre.
After“Get Out” and “Us,” Peele is now showing that he wasn’t planning on stopping there with his most upcoming films “Antebellum,”starring Janelle Monáe, set to premiere April 24, and an equally sinister sequel to Bernard Rose’s, “Candyman”—set to premiere June 12.
Starting out as a comedian known best for his Comedy Central sketch comedy series, “Key & Peele,”Peele is one of several successful creatives who are using their Blackness as a beacon in their craft.
Peele has become one of the most influential Black movie directors and screen-writers of this generation, and that goes without saying. He produces content that doesn’t need context for mainstream America through a haunting ambiance and sociopolitical underlying statements.
Unlike the greats that came before him such as Spike Lee or John Singleton, Peele has taken a different route to appealing to the African American community. He lays the usual “Black trauma” narrative to rest. He showcases the Black experience as part of the American experience as a whole, while still celebrating the uniqueness of Black culture.
In an interview with the Upright Citizens Brigade Theater in March of 2019, Peele expressed how keeping Black faces on the screen in leading roles was a priority for him.
“The way I look at it, 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.”
He said he wasn’t interested in changing this aspect of his films, either.
“I don’t see myself casting a white dude as a lead in my movies. Not that I don’t like white dudes, but I’ve seen that movie,” Peelesaid.
And he’s right. Black people have been subjected to exclusivity in Hollywood for way too long.
It’s rare that African-Americans get to see people who look like them on screen without either forcing the same tired, micro-aggressions upon them or waiting every 10 years for a movie that’s unapologetically Black and good.
Ivy Gray, a third-year public relations student at FAMU, believes that Peele is taking on the over-saturation of whiteness in Hollywood. He will likely go down in history for his esteemed work, she said.
“I feel like he’s one of those directors who has so much originality. Like I’m sure he has his influences, everyone does, but you can’t look back at previous horror films and say he copied someone else’s style. He’s truly in a lane of his own,” Gray said. “Even when he takes classic songs like ‘I Got 5 On It’ in the movie ‘Us’ or ‘Say My Name’ with the new ‘Candyman’ trailer, no other well-known Black creative has done that before. I’m not trying to discredit them, but it’s true,”she added.
If Hollywood were smart, it would open up the doors for more minorities to get the opportunity to build on their craft and follow in Peele’s steps through diversifying their films way more than they have in the past.