By TRE’VELL ANDERSON
Los Angeles Times
That’s how Jordan Peele started off his question-and-answer session backstage at the Academy Awards on Sunday, when the “Get Out” writer-director faced a crowd of reporters after winning the Oscar for best original screenplay. He noted the honor was about more than him.
“I didn’t know how important this was,” he said. “I always wanted this, but the campaign is grueling and there were times where I questioned what it was all about 1/8because] you’re watching your last jumpshot for a year. As an artist, that doesn’t feel right.”
But when the nominations came out, Peele said, he had that “amazing” feeling of looking at “that 12-year-old that had this burning in my gut for this type of validation, and I instantly realized that an award like this is much bigger than me. This is about paying it forward to the young people.”
After the academy announced his nomination, he was reminded of Whoopi Goldberg’s 1991 Oscar acceptance speech for best supporting actress in “Ghost.” He reached out to her, he said, and thanked her “for telling young people who maybe doubted themselves that they could do it.”
Peele said that when he was younger, he longed for role models but found few beyond Spike Lee, John Singleton and Mario and Melvin Van Peebles. He is happy to be a role model for those coming behind him, along with the likes of directors Ava DuVernay, Ryan Coogler, Barry Jenkins (“Moonlight”) and F. Gary Gray (“Friday”).
“It’s a renaissance,” he said of this moment when films like DuVernay’s “A Wrinkle in Time” and Coogler’s “Black Panther” will be in the cinematic conversation at the same time. “I’m glad to be part of a time, the beginning of a movement, where the best films of every genre are being brought to me by my fellow black directors.”