Born and raised in New York, Peele developed an early affinity for comedy, acting, and performing. He began performing at places like Boom Chicago in the Netherlands as well as The Second City here in Chicago before joining the cast of MADtv in 2003. His future comedic partner and now close friend, Keegan-Michael Key (pictured above) also joined the cast of MADtv at the time. The two even made a cameo in comedic singer, "Weird Al' Yankovic's video "White & Nerdy." He remained with the show for five seasons, playing various roles and showing his comedic talent. And people started to take notice.
After leaving MADtv, Key and Peele reunited once again, this time starring in their own comedy show, Key & Peele that aired on Comedy Central from 2012-2016. Though known for its entertaining skits, the show was also meant to send a message and shed light on dark subject matters including racism, slavery, terrorism, and suicide. What made the show so successful was it found just the right balance between satire and wit to leave you laughing, but also thinking.
But what makes Jordan Peele so intriguing is his most recent creation, his directing debut called Get Out. A horror ode to Guess Who's Coming to Dinner, Get Out tells the story of an interracial love story, between a black man and his white girlfriend meeting the girl's family for the first time. Upon meeting the family, the protagonist, Chris, begins to feel increasingly unwelcome surrounded by all the white family members. The suspense and thrill of the movie is non-stop, culminating in a heart-pounding final scene that leaves you on the edge of your seat.
So where did Peele get his ideas? In an interview with radio station KCRW in Santa Monica, Peele described his goal of addressing the lack of black representation in horror by creating a sympathetic, protagonist of color as well as his casting process to create the unsettling "white" environment of the plot. He uses visual imagery, combined with past experience to create a story that relates to all of us as viewers. He uses the mechanisms of conception and expertise, integrating his prior knowledge and experience of comedy, horror, and being a black American to visually communicate the real life horror that is the mass incarceration of African Americans today. Peele also describes the movie as a constant flow of tension and release, comparing the juxtaposition of comedy and horror to a metaphor for life and death. "[Horror and comedy] is about tension building and release, I feel that in a lot of ways horror and comedy and that pattern of tension and release is a metaphor for our own life and death. And that life is a long, winding tension toward this inevitable, absurd unknown that is the release of death." As a horror buff himself, Peele claimed he drew inspirations from his two favorite classic horror films, Rosemary's Baby and The Stepford Wives.
Since it's debut on February 24th, Get Out has generated more than $100M compared to its $4.5M budget. This made Jordan Peele the first black writer-director with a $100M movie debut in filmmaking history.