When They See Us is on a hot streak. The four-part series not only was one Netflix most-watched shows but it also earned the streaming giant its most Emmy nominations with a count of 16 total. “The title came to life. When They See Us came to life. We see them,” series star Jharrel Jerome, who nabbed his first-ever nomination.
Speaking to Deadline this morning, Jerome said the meaning of being recognized for his role as Exonerated Five member Korey Wise goes beyond a gold statute.
“It’s one thing to be recognized for a general role, but for me to be recognized for playing Korey Wise, that’s what’s hitting me,” he said. “Just understanding the fact that Korey Wise is his own person, his own inspiration. He’s somebody who the world looks up to now. For me to be the only person on this planet who got the chance to bring that to life, that’s the nomination and the award right there.”
His co-star Michael K. Williams, who earned his fourth Emmy nom for his supporting role in the series, agreed about the importance of being recognized for this particular project about the men once known as the Central Park Five.
“This is the first time that these men got to speak their truth,” he told Deadline. “For them to have this platform, it’s not about me, it’s not about my career, it’s about these five men, these five exonerated men. The world not only gets to see their truth but we get to witness the Academy acknowledging that this is their truth.”
When They See Us undoubtedly struck a chord with viewers who watched the all-too-relevant and timely story of five boys who, in 1989, were wrongfully convicted of attacking a jogger in Central Park three decades ago and incarcerated for most of their adolescent and part of their adult lives.
“The weight of the story is just so tangible,” Jerome said. “You can feel it in the air regardless of if you were a part of it, regardless if you can relate to it or not. It’s 2019. This story happened in 1989, but we’re still hearing ‘rest in peace Sandra Bland,’ ‘rest in peace Trayvon Martin,’ ‘rest in peace Eric Garner.’ This has not changed. It’s so terrifying to think this was happening in 1989 and look at what’s on the news today.”
He added, “I think the importance of this show is that it’s about time we speak up and we change the justice system.”
With the emotion brought about from this series, Williams cautions, “the worst thing that we can do is to make their story an ingredient to the conversation one of us against them.”
He continued, “With all the garbage we see going on within my community and the local police, we cannot allow that to make us hateful.
“We have to come together,” Jordan added. “You cannot spell community without the word ‘unity.’ I’m hoping that in the very emotional conversation that we are having in regards to When They See Us, my prayer is that we come out with solutions of how we can come together.”