When Ava Duvernays film When They See Us released, it rocked the industry in and out. The essence of the film thoroughly detailed the unfortunate situation with The Central Park 5, now The Exonerated 5. In case you haven’t heard, the Emmy winning film chronicled the wrongful 1989 prosecution of five young teenagers at the time: Raymond Santana, Kevin Richardson, Antron McCray, Yusef Salaam, and Korey Wise who were wrongfully accused of the brutal attack and rape against a female taking a jog in Central Park. All of the gentlemen were in the age range of 14-16 at the time of their wrongful arrest. Santana, Richardson, McCray, and Salaam were charged and convicted as minors, which left Wise, whom was 16 at the time, was charged as an adult and served 13 years for the crimes wrongfully brought against him.
In the film, Jerome passionately plays Korey Wise, which landed him an award at the 71st Emmy Awards for Outstanding Lead Actor in a Limited Series or Movie. Jerome plays the character of Korey Wise so delicately infusing his emotions to deeply resonate with the world, ultimately sparking conversation around prison reform and restructuring what is called the justice system. Accompanying his win is a history making moment two times over as he became the the first Afro-Latino to win an acting Emmy and the youngest in his category as well. The 21 year old actor made a heartfelt speech honoring his “beautiful mother,” DuVernay, and continuing to list each of the five exonerated men, who were amongst the cheering crown Sunday night further celebrating there vacated convictions and accepting all of the deserving acknowledgement from all of the world.
In an interview backstage, Jerome quoted when asked about his take on the roles African Americans mostly win for is struggles rather than joys, he responded “Unfortunately, I think our strongest stories are the stories of pain considering that’s what we go through on a daily basis. It is unfortunate that comedies or light pieces of work aren’t as praised and aren’t sent to the award season,” Jerome stated. “The truth is our pain needs to be told. So if it has to be for the next 20 years where we are just painfully telling our stories until we can move on, then I guess it has to be.”
Congratulations to Jharrel Jerome and the entire When They See Us team for this further monumental moment in history!