Jharrel Jerome Becomes First Afro-Latino Actor to Win an Emmy
"This is for the men that we know as the Exonerated Five," Jerome said in his acceptance speech. "It’s for Raymond, Yusef, Antron, Kevin and King Korey Wise."
At Sunday's Emmy Awards, Jharrel Jerome became the first Afro-Latino to win an Emmy for acting, for his portrayal of Korey Wise in When They See Us, the Netflix miniseries about the five teenagers who were wrongfully convicted of rape in the 1989 Central Park jogger case. Jerome, who is Dominican American, took home the trophy for best lead actor in a limited series, and on stage he dedicated the award to the group, all of whom were in the audience. “Most importantly, this is for the men that we know as the Exonerated Five,” he said. “It's for Raymond, Yusef, Antron, Kevin and King Korey Wise.” At 21, Jerome is also the youngest actor to ever win in his category.
Directed by Ava DuVernay, When They See Us documents the arrest, conviction and incarceration of the Exonerated Five (formerly known as the Central Park Five), all of whom were teens at the time. Four of them were tried as juveniles, but Wise, who was 16, was tried as an adult and served time in a regular prison. After another man confessed to the crime in 2001, the five men's convictions were vacated, and in 2003, they sued the city of New York for wrongful conviction. Finally, in 2014, they were awarded a settlement of $41 million, though the city did not admit to any wrongdoing.
When They See Us was nominated for several other Emmys, including acting nods for Niecy Nash, John Leguizamo, Aunjanue Ellis, Vera Farmiga and Michael K. Williams and a best directing nod for DuVernay; Jerome ended up being the show's sole winner on Sunday (earlier this month the show won a Creative Arts Emmy for casting). “It's an honor,” he said in the press room after the ceremony. “It's a blessing. And I hope this is a step forward for Dominicans, for Latinos, for Afro-Latinos. It's about time we are here.”