News 06.04.19

Niecy Nash: “When They See Us” Changed My Life

Niecy Nash as Delores Wise and Jharrel Jerome as Korey Wise in When They See Us. (Atsushi Nishijima/Netflix)

Since 1989, every time I came across the Central Park Five case in the media, I dropped what I was doing to pay attention.  I had no connection to Antron McCray, Kevin Richardson, Yusef Salaam, Raymond Santana, Korey Wise or anyone involved, but I was captured by just how ugly the world treated these young boys from Harlem.

Related: Central Park Five Tragedy Reframed in When They See Us

When I found out Ava DuVernay was developing their story, I knew I wanted to be part of it.

In the new series When They See Us, I play Delores Wise, Korey’s mother, who I had the privilege and opportunity to talk to and learn from directly.

Raymond Santana, Niecy Nash, President of John Jay College, Karol Mason, Kevin Richardson, and Yusef Salaam participated in a discussion at the Innocence Network Conference Panel in Atlanta in April 2019.

Korey was 16 when he was wrongfully arrested and sent away to Rikers Island while the others were placed in juvenile detention centers.

Related: Remembering Kalief Browder After his Suicide and Why Rikers Island Should be Shut Down

He spent 12 years, the longest of all five men, in various maximum-security prisons, and he refused to admit guilt during any parole hearings.

Korey maintained his innocence through and through despite the daily tortures he endured behind bars.

Korey maintained his innocence through and through despite the daily tortures he endured behind bars.

Watch now on Netflix

Niecy Nash as Delores Wise and Jharrel Jerome as Korey Wise in When They See Us. (Atsushi Nishijima/Netflix)

As a mother—both on and off set—it broke my heart to film the courtroom scene where Korey, brilliantly played by Jharrel Jerome, was taken away.

As a mother—both on and off set—it broke my heart to film the courtroom scene where Korey was taken away.

From that moment on, I was committed to being a responsible storyteller by taking an active role in supporting the real-life Korey Wises of the world.

I became an Innocence Project Ambassador in December 2018 with the goal of using my platform to spread the organization’s mission.

Please join me in watching Netflix’s When They See Us—a story that has forever changed my life—learning more about Korey and the case through this multimedia web feature, and continuing to support the countless number of innocent people behind bars.

Leave a reply

  1. Kionna Rasheed says:

    I feel so bad about what happened to korey. I will say he is a strong man to go through that and still come home with a positive attitude God Bless

  2. Charlotte Jackson says:

    This story captures my heart and won’t let go. I have found myself praying for all the victims of this whole situation. Even for those who prosecuted these young men and aided in their demise, I pray for their redemption. I so grateful justice prevailed in behalf of these young men and they continue to breathe the air of freedom physically and in their hearts.

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