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Jordan Peele is the first African-American to win the best original screenplay Oscar

Jordan Peele with his OscarImage copyright Reuters
Image caption Peele is the first African-American to win the best original screenplay Oscar

Jordan Peele has earned a place in the Oscar history books.

The 39-year-old, who made his name in sketch comedy, won best original screenplay for Get Out at Sunday’s awards – making him the first black screenwriter to receive the honour.

“I just won an Oscar. WTF?!?” tweeted Jordan Peele after receiving the best original screenplay award for Get Out.

“I stopped writing this movie about 20 times… I thought it was impossible. I thought it wasn’t going to work.”

He wasn’t the only one to express both astonishment and delight at seeing his satirical horror film recognised.

“This just made my night,” tweeted actor Josh Gad, calling Peele’s win “unbelievably well deserved”.

Oprah Winfrey, meanwhile, said she was “so happy and proud” to see the star recognised for his first film as writer-director.

Others to congratulate Peele on his success included the actors Jeffrey Wright and Terry Crews. The latter sent his congratulations via his Brooklyn Nine Nine co-star (and Peele’s wife) Chelsea Peretti.

Keegan-Michael Key, who starred with Peele in the Comedy Central show Key & Peele, was photographed at an Oscars viewing party yelling with delight at his comedy partner’s win.

The significance of Peele’s victory was not lost on him when he spoke to journalists backstage at the Dolby Theatre in Hollywood.

Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption Peele was presented his award by actress Nicole Kidman

“An award like this is much bigger than me,” he said. “This is about paying it forward to the young people who might not believe they can achieve the highest honour in whatever craft they want to push for.”

He also suggested that Hollywood was experiencing “a renaissance”, adding: “I feel proud to be at the beginning of a movement where I feel like the best films in every genre are being brought to me by my fellow black directors.”

Get Out began the evening with four nominations, including one for best picture. Peele was also shortlisted in the best director category, while the film’s star – British actor Daniel Kaluuya – was up for best actor.

The fact it was beaten to the best picture award by The Shape of Water prompted one Twitter user to allude to Kanye West’s infamous stage invasion at the MTV Video Music Awards in 2009.

Amid all the elation, though, one person pointed out that Peele’s win came after decades of under-representation for African-American screenwriters at the Academy Awards.

Before Peele, the only black screenwriters to be nominated for the best original screenplay prize were Suzanne de Passe (for Lady Sings the Blues), Spike Lee (for Do the Right Thing) and John Singleton (for Boyz N the Hood).

The best adapted screenplay category has shown more diversity – with wins for Geoffrey Fletcher (Precious), John Ridley (12 Years a Slave) and Barry Jenkins with Tarell Alvin McCraney (Moonlight).

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