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Peele: 1st African American to win original screenplay Oscar

Writer-director Jordan Peele became the first African American to win a Best Original Screenplay statue at Sunday’s Oscars for his thriller “Get Out.”

“This means so much to me. I stopped writing this movie about 20 times because I thought it was impossible. I thought it wasn’t going to work,” Peele said during his speech.

The comedian-turned-filmmaker beat out stiff competition from Guillermo del Toro’s “The Shape of Water” (co-writer Vanessa Taylor) and Greta Gerwig “Lady Bird” which had significant marketing momentum prior to the 90th annual Academy Awards ceremony.

“I want to dedicate this to all the people who raised my voice and let me make this movie,” he added. Peele shared that he stopped writing the script “20 times” because he thought it would be impossible to get the film made.

Peele is the third person in the Academy Awards’ 90-year history to be nominated for directing, writing and producing for a debut film.

“I thought it wasn’t going to work. I thought no one would ever make this movie, but I kept coming back to it because I knew if someone would let me make this movie that people would hear it and people would see it,” Peele stated in his acceptance speech.

African-American filmmakers Suzanne de Passe for 1972’s “Lady Sings the Blues”, Spike Lee for 1989’s “Do the Right Thing” and John Singleton for 1991’s “Boyz n the Hood” were all previously nominated in the original script category.

“Get Out” lost out, in the Best Director and Best Picture categories, to del Toro’s “The Shape of Water.” The film, which grossed over US$250 million worldwide, also received a best-actor (Daniel Kaluuya) nomination.

“The Big Sick” (Emily V. Gordon & Kumail Nanjiani) and “Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri” (Martin McDonagh) completed the list of original screenplay nominees.

Writers of Afro descent, Barry Jenkins and Tarell Alvin McCraney (“Moonlight”) and John Ridley (“12 Years a Slave”), have won in the Best Adapted Screenplay category.

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