Jordan Haworth Peele (born February 21, 1979) is an American actor, comedian, writer, film producer and director.
Peele appeared for five seasons as a cast member on Mad TV, and starred with Keegan-Michael Key in the Comedy Central sketch series Key & Peele. In 2014, he had a recurring role in the first season of the FX anthology series Fargo, based on the 1996 film of the same name.
Peele's 2017 directorial debut, the horror film Get Out, earned critical acclaim and was a box office success. He received numerous accolades, including the Academy Award for Best Original Screenplay, along with nominations for Best Picture and Best Director.
Early life[edit | edit source]
Peele was born in New York City, and raised by his single mother, Lucinda Williams, on Manhattan's Upper West Side. His mother is white and his father is black. He attended the Computer School in Manhattan, graduated from The Calhoun School on Manhattan's Upper West Side, and went on to Sarah Lawrence College before dropping out after two years to form a comedy duo with his college roommate and future Key & Peele comedy writer Rebecca Drysdale.
Career[edit | edit source]
2000s: Early beginnings and Mad TV[edit | edit source]
Peele regularly performed at Boom Chicago in Amsterdam and The Second City in Chicago. He and Nicole Parker were well known for their musical duets at Boom Chicago. He portrayed a popular character called "Danish Supermodel Ute" during his time at Boom Chicago and hosted MTV's Comedy Weekend in 2002.
In 2003, Peele joined the cast of Mad TV for its ninth season. Around the time Keegan-Michael Key joined the cast as a featured performer, it was assumed that Key would be chosen over Peele. The two of them ultimately were cast together after showing great comedic chemistry. Peele performed celebrity impersonations, which included favorites Caroll Spinney (as the voice of Big Bird from Sesame Street), Ja Rule, James Brown, Flavor Flav, Justin Guarini, Montel Williams, Morgan Freeman and Forest Whitaker. Peele was absent from the first four episodes of his second season on Mad TV. He made a cameo in "Weird Al" Yankovic's video "White & Nerdy" with Mad TV co-star Keegan-Michael Key.
Peele was nominated for a 2008 Emmy Award for his song "Sad Fitty Cent", a music video parody about 50 Cent lamenting over his rivalry with Kanye West. The lyrics were, according to the music video, written by Peele, and he was involved in arranging its music. In 2009 he appeared in Little Fockers.
Peele appeared in a viral video titled "Hillary vs Obama" (which was shown as a Mad TV sketch) where he and a Hillary Clinton supporter (played by short-term cast member Lisa Donovan) argue over whether Hillary Clinton or Barack Obama would make a better president, only to get upstaged by a Rudy Giuliani supporter (played by Donovan's brother, Ben).
Peele auditioned to be a castmember for Saturday Night Live when SNL producers were looking for someone to play Barack Obama (around the time when SNL and Mad TV — and other scripted shows — were put on hiatus due to the 2007–2008 Writers Guild of America strike). Peele remained at Mad TV and the role went to Fred Armisen until September 2012, when Jay Pharoah took over the role.
After five seasons on Mad TV, Peele left the cast at the end of the 13th season.
2010–2016: Further success with Key & Peele[edit | edit source]
In 2010, Peele co-starred in the FOX comedy pilot The Station, and appeared with a recurring role in the Adult Swim series Childrens Hospital. He had a supporting role in the David Wain-directed comedy Wanderlust, which was released in 2012.
Peele and his former Mad TV castmate and friend Keegan-Michael Key starred in their own Comedy Central sketch series Key & Peele, from 2012 to 2015. The series was a success with viewers, and spawned several skits and videos that went viral online.
In 2014, Peele played an FBI Agent in the first season of the FX anthology series Fargo, based on the 1996 film of the same name.
In 2016, Peele starred in, and produced, with Key, their first feature film Keanu.The film received generally favorable reviews from critics.
2017–present: Get Out and The Last O.G.[edit | edit source]
In February 2017, Peele's first film as solo director, Get Out, was released to critical acclaim, eventually scoring a 98% rating on Rotten Tomatoes. The film received particular praise for Peele's screenplay and direction, as well as the performance of the star, Daniel Kaluuya, and was chosen by the National Board of Review, the American Film Institute, and Time magazine as one of the top 10 films of the year. The Atlantic called the film "a masterpiece."
Get Out proved to be popular with movie audiences, and it eventually became one of the most profitable horror films, and films of 2017, and grossed over $255 million on a budget of $4.5 million. For his work on the film, Peele received significant attention, as well as numerous accolades, including the Bingham Ray Breakthrough Director Award at the 2017 Gotham Independent Film Awards.
The film also received four nominations at the 90th Academy Awards: Best Picture, Best Director and Best Original Screenplay nominations for Peele, as well as a Best Actor nomination for Kaluuya. Peele won the Academy Award for Best Original Screenplay, becoming the first black screenwriter to win in this category. He became the third person, after Warren Beatty and James L. Brooks, to be nominated for Best Picture, Best Director, and Best Original Screenplay for a debut film, and the first black person to receive them for any one film. Get Out also earned him the Writers Guild of America Award for Best Original Screenplay, as well as nominations for a Directors Guild of America Award and a BAFTA Award for Best Original Screenplay.
In early 2018 Peele announced his intention to retire from acting, stating in an interview with CBS "Acting is just nowhere near as fun for me as directing".
In 2018, Peele co-created the TBS comedy series The Last O.G., who starred Tracy Morgan and Tiffany Haddish.
Also in 2018, Peele co-produced the Spike Lee film, BlacKkKlansman which was released to critical acclaim and was a box office success. The film received six nominations at the 91st Academy Awards including the Best Picture nomination for Peele.
Future projects[edit | edit source]
Peele will produce the HBO series Lovecraft Country written by Underground co-creator Misha Green, which will be shown through the lens of supernatural horror. Peele will also write and direct Us, a horror-thriller film starring Lupita Nyong'o and Winston Duke with Elisabeth Moss eyed for a lead role. The film will be produced by Blumhouse Productions, Monkeypaw Productions and QC Entertainment. The film is set to be released March 15, 2019 by Universal Pictures.
Influences[edit | edit source]
In February 2017, Peele curated the Brooklyn Academy of Music film series "The Art of the Social Thriller", comprising 12 films that inspired the making of Get Out, including the horror films Rosemary's Baby, Night of the Living Dead, The Shining, Candyman, The People Under the Stairs, Scream, The Silence of the Lambs, Funny Games, Misery, and the thrillers Rear Window, The 'Burbs, and the 1967 racial comedy-drama Guess Who's Coming to Dinner.
As a comedian, Peele counts among his influences In Living Color, Richard Pryor and Dave Chappelle.
Personal life[edit | edit source]
Peele began dating Chelsea Peretti in 2013. They became engaged in November 2015, and, in April 2016, Peretti announced that she and Peele had eloped at an unspecified date. On July 1, 2017, Peretti gave birth to their son, Beaumont Gino.