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Lupita Nyong'o in Us

Jordan Peele's movies have a lot that set them apart from the pack, but one of the most obvious is the fact that, in the cases of both Get Out and Us, the lead characters were African-American. In a Hollywood that is still largely focused on white men, Peele's movies are an anomaly, but the director doesn't expect that he'll ever make a movie with a lead actor that looks like so many other lead actors, for the simple reason that it happens so frequently. According to Peele...

I don’t see myself casting a white dude as the lead in my movie. Not that I don’t like white dudes. But I've seen that movie.

While Hollywood diversity is always improving, the vast majority of films still star white dudes. Beyond the simple benefits of diversity, the fact is that Jordan Peele's movies standout because they aren't simply another movie about a white guy. The relationship between black people and the horror genre specifically is such that it is often the subject of jokes. Peele's interest in making horror films with black actors means that he gets to battle these tropes and give the entire genre a new look.

And for Peele, it isn't that he simply likes to cast black people. In Get Out especially, the fact that the main character is black is a key part of the story. It simply doesn't work any other way.

And if you're worried, the position of white people in Jordan Peele's movies is improving. In Get Out they were evil, but in Us, they're not the bad guys, they're just assholes.

At the same time, the writer/director told a group of students at the Upright Citizens Brigade Theater (via THR) that he also wants to cast black people in his films because he's in a unique position to be able to do so...

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."

For a director who has only made two movies, Jordan Peele has had an incredible amount of success. His first movie won him an Academy Award for writing and his second movie is now the hottest thing at the box office. The fact is that other filmmakers could potentially have trouble casting minorities in major roles in movies because there's frequently a feeling that can limit a movie's appeal, but nobody is going to tell Jordan Peele no at this point. One hopes that Peele's success will help open the door to others, as he is helping to shatter those Hollywood casting myths.

To be fair, Jordan Peele simply says he doesn't see himself casting a white actor in a lead role because he's seen the movie before. If he came up with a way to do it that we hadn't seen before it could happen. Still, Peele's movies are terrifying and provocative just the way he makes them, so I'm certainly not hoping for a major shift any time soon.

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