The 71st Primetime Emmy Awards was full of pleasant victories as Bronx native Jharrel Jerome took home his first Emmy for Outstanding Lead Actor in a Limited Series/Movie for Netflix’s When They See Us.
Created by Ava DuVernay, When They See Us premiered on May 31, 2019, and was inspired by the 1989 case in which Trisha Meili, a 28-year-old female jogger, who was attacked and raped by an unknown assailant in New York City’s Central Park. The brutal attack left Meili in a coma for 12 days. As a result, five juvenile males, Antron McCray, Raymond Santana, Yusef Salaam, Kevin Richardson and Korey Wise, known as the Central Park Five or Exonerated Five, were wrongfully convicted of the crimes by juries in two separate trials in 1990. The young men were accused only because they happened to be in the park during the time of the crime. After coming to realization that law officials were dishonest by coercing the juveniles to admit to the crime, the convictions were subsequently vacated in 2002.
A graduate of the Fiorello H. LaGuardia High School, Jerome first rose to prominence for his portrayal of young Kevin Jones in the Academy Award winning 2016 film Moonlight. During his acceptance speech, Jerome affectionately thanked his parents, others who inspired him. These others included the Exonerated 5, who were in attendance and gave him a standing ovation. His amazing portrayal of the strong-willed Korey Wise not only exposed the corruption of the NYPD, but also evoked the importance of criminal justice reform around the world.