The Academy Awards have been around for 90 years, but they just awarded the Best Original Screenplay award to a Black person for the first time. Jordan Peele became the first Black person to win an Oscar for Best Original Screenplay for his work on Get Out.
Before Peele, only three Black people had been nominated in the category: Suzanne de Passe (Lady Sings the Blues 1972), Spike Lee (Do the Right Thing 1989) John Singleton (Boyz n the Hood, 1991). All three films are remembered as American classics.
Peele’s racially-charged film took aim at White liberals who likely voted for Barack Obama, but used subtle forms of racism against Blacks. It was almost an allegory on the reality of Hollywood and the way it has treated Black talent over the years.
Although Hollywood actors and execs would mostly consider themselves liberal, racist practices continued to exist in the film industry for decades. From roles in front of the camera to opportunities behind the camera, the film industry often ignored the power of Black talent and content.
But Peele’s victory could possibly lead to a change in the near future. During his acceptance speech, Peele said, “I think the biggest thing ‘Get Out’ taught me about the power of story is that one of the few ways we can promote empathy is by seeing the world through somebody else’s eyes, and that’s what a great story does.”
It’s time for the Hollywood machine to finally give more opportunities to the stories that provide a glimpse at diverse backgrounds.