Update: Jharell Jerome won an Emmy award for Outstanding Lead Actor In A Limited Series for his role as exoneree Korey Wise in When They See Us and made history as the first Afro-Latino to win an acting award. Jerome thanked his mother, Ava DuVernay, and “most importantly this is for the men that we know as the Exonerated Five. Raymond, Yusef, Antron, Kevin, and King Korey Wise!”
— Television Academy (@TelevisionAcad) September 23, 2019
“Most importantly, this is for the men we know as the Exonerated Five.” Jharrel Jerome dedicates his #Emmy win for Lead Actor in a Limited Series to the Exonerated Five. #WhenTheySeeUs pic.twitter.com/mRJjmtQkkj
— ARRAY (@ARRAYNow) September 23, 2019
— Miranda J. (@randa_writes) September 23, 2019
When They See Us–the Netflix miniseries covering the wrongful convictions of Antron McCray, Kevin Richardson, Yusef Salaam, Raymond Santana and Korey Wise, all teenagers at the time of their arrest and sentencing–is on its way to the Emmys this weekend. The series is nominated for a momentous 16 awards, including Outstanding Direction by Ava DuVernay and eight acting awards.
Over 23 million stream worldwide
The four-episode miniseries brought global attention to the tragic story of these five young men and the systemic problems within the legal system. Less than a month after its premiere in May 2019, the series reached 23 million streams worldwide, according to data released by Netflix and DuVernay, who worked closely with Antron, Yusef, Korey, Raymond and Kevin—also known as the Exonerated Five—to make sure their stories were told honestly. In the weeks leading up to the release, the Exonerated Five attended the Innocence Project gala, where they honored DuVernay for bringing their story to life with care.
Imagine believing the world doesn’t care about real stories of black people. It always made me sad. So when Netflix just shared with me that 23M+ accounts worldwide have watched #WhenTheySeeUs, I cried. Our stories matter and can move across the globe. A new truth for a new day. pic.twitter.com/4vgCo0aKR9
— Ava DuVernay (@ava) June 25, 2019
Life after exoneration
Since their exoneration, the Exonerated Five have become leaders in the movement to protect and advocate for the innocent. Dr. Yusef Salaam is a motivational speaker and current Innocence Project board member who travels the world to educate people on the systemic failures of the U.S. legal system. Korey Wise, who spent 12 years of his life in prison–the longest sentence among the group–still lives in New York City where he is an advocate for criminal justice reform, including giving a generous gift to the Colorado Innocence Project in 2015 then renamed the Korey Wise Innocence Project.
— The Exonerated 5 (@santanaraymond) April 21, 2015
Cast members join Innocence Ambassadors
Three When They See Us cast members are Innocence Ambassadors: Michael K. Williams, who played the father of Antron McCray; Aurora Perinneau, who played the girlfriend of Raymond Santana after his release; and Niecy Nash, who played Korey Wise’s mother. Stay tuned for a big announcement next week of another cast member who’s joining the Innocence Project family.
You can find the full list of nominations for When They See Us below. For more information on the series, check out our overview. To learn more about wrongful conviction, check out our reading and media guides or take the quiz to see what you already know.
When They See Us Emmy nomination list:
- Outstanding Limited Series
- Outstanding Directing For A Limited Series, Movie Or Dramatic Special: Ava DuVernay
- Outstanding Music Composition For A Limited Series, Movie Or Special (Original Dramatic Score): Kris Bowers
- Outstanding Supporting Actor In A Limited Series Or Movie: Asante Blackk
- Outstanding Supporting Actor In A Limited Series Or Movie: John Leguizamo
- Outstanding Supporting Actor In A Limited Series Or Movie: Michael K. Williams
- Outstanding Lead Actress In A Limited Series Or Movie: Aunjanue Ellis
- Outstanding Lead Actress In A Limited Series Or Movie: Niecy Nash
- Outstanding Supporting Actress In A Limited Series Or Movie: Marsha Stephanie Blake
- Outstanding Supporting Actress In A Limited Series Or Movie: Vera Farmiga
- Outstanding Sound Mixing For A Limited Series Or Movie: Joe DeAngelis, Chris Carpenter, and Jan McLaughlin
- Outstanding Writing For A Limited Series, Movie Or Dramatic Special: Ava DuVernay and Michael Starrbury
- Outstanding Lead Actor In A Limited Series Or Movie: Jharrel Jerome (Winner)
- Outstanding Sound Editing For A Limited Series, Movie Or Special: John Benson, Susan Dudeck, Bruce Tanis, Chase Keene, Jesse Pomeroy, Naaman Haynes, Bobbi Banks, Elliott Koretz, Editor Matt Wilson, Suat Ayas, Jen Monnar, Dawn Lunsford, and Alicia Stevenson
- Outstanding Cinematography For A Limited Series Or Movie: Bradford Young
- Outstanding Casting For A Limited Series, Movie Or Special: Aisha Coley, Billy Hopkins, and Ashley Ingram (Winner)