*While speaking to students at the Upright Citizens Brigade Theatre in Hollywood this week, “Us” director Jordan Peele made clear that he will keep telling stories that aren’t led by white folks.
“I don’t see myself casting a white dude as the lead in my movie,” Peele said. “Not that I don’t like white dudes, but I’ve seen that movie.”
His comments come fresh off a $70 million opening weekend for his latest horror flick, “Us,” and ahead of his “Twilight Zone” reboot premiering next week on CBS All Access.
“The best way to end this great weekend is with you guys,” Peele told the crowd of 200.
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As reported by THR, during the conversation, Peele said Steve Martin and Martin Lawrence were his influences in comedy; in directing, he named Tim Burton.
In high school, Jordan knew he wanted to be a director, but instead of studying film at NYU, he attended the private liberal arts school Sarah Lawrence College in Yonkers.
“The day I didn’t go to NYU, I said maybe [directing] wasn’t for me,” he recalled. As it turns out, he wasn’t feeling Sarah Lawrence, so Peele dropped out after two years in order to study improv and sketch comedy.
“I knew I had to leave,” he said. “But it’s not a classically lucrative industry, so it’s not like I can recommend that black people get into it because it doesn’t pay.”
He moved to Chicago and studied at Second City, where he met Keegan-Michael Key. They two eventually landed in L.A. and appeared on MADtv together before taking their act over to Comedy Central, starring in the hit sketch comedy series “Key & Peele.”
During an audience Q&A, Peele was asked to name his favorite episode of “The Twilight Zone,” and he cited “The Monsters Are Due on Maple Street.”
“It points out the ugliness and flaws of humanity,” he explained. “That’s what I like to do with my stories. The real monsters are within us. When people get together we are the greatest monster we’ve ever known.”