Los Angeles, Sep 23 (IANS) “When They See Us” star Jharrel Jerome made history by becoming the youngest person to win an Emmy in Lead Actor in a Limited Series or Movie category.
He is also the first Afro-Latino to win for acting. He won the award for his portrayal of Exonerated Five member Korey Wise, who was 16 when jurors wrongfully convicted him of assault, sexual abuse, and rioting in the 1989 Central Park jogger case.
“It’s a blessing and I hope this is a step forward for Dominicans, for Latinos, for Afro Latinos. It’s about time we’re here,” deadline.com quoted Jerome as saying backstage after accepting the award.
After learning that he was also the youngest to win, the 21-year-old said: “Well damn, that’s incredible.. kids are smart too.”
The Netflix four-part series tells the true story of five teens — Antron McCray, Kevin Richardson, Yusef Salaam, Raymond Santana and Korey Wise, who were wrongfully convicted of raping a white woman in 1989. They were referred to as the Central Park Five or the Exonerated Five.
The actor also opened up about the Academy recognising dark narratives when it comes to stories about people of colour.
“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.
“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,” he said.
Jerome was pitted against Mahershala Ali (“True Detective”), Benicio Del Toro (“Escape at Dannemora”), Hugh Grant (“A Very English Scandal”), Jared Harris (“Chernobyl”) and Sam Rockwell (“Fosse/Verdon”). He accepted the award from Angela Bassett, with attendees giving him a standing ovation.
On stage, he dedicated the award to the Exonerated Five.
“I feel like I should just be in the Bronx right now, chilling, waiting for my mom’s cooking or something,” Jerome said as he fought back tears.
He continued: “But I’m here in front of my inspirations, I’m here in front of people who I’m so motivated by, and the reason I’m here is because (of) actors like the people I was in the category with. I have to thank my mom, who’s with me today, my beautiful mother. I couldn’t do it without her. My dad… of course Ava (DuVernay, creator of the series), thank you for giving me this opportunity, Netflix, my team.”
“But most importantly, this is for the men that we know as the Exonerated Five,” he said about the five who were in the audience.