The director wrote on Thursday that her mom makes a brief appearance in part two of the series, which spotlights the lives of the five black and Latino teenagers, now men, who were wrongly convicted of raping a white, 28-year-old female jogger in New York’s Central Park in 1989.
DuVernay tweeted that viewers who spot Maye should “just know you’re looking at the best mommie this girl could have,”
Maye can be seen seated at a desk in an apparent newsroom featured in the scripted series, within the first two minutes of its second installment. The scene portrays public reaction to people learning that the five boys, labeled the Central Park Five in the widely publicized case, were accused of the brutal crime.
“When They See Us” tells the story of Korey Wise, Kevin Richardson, Raymond Santana, Yusef Salaam and Antron McCray. The series, released May 31, has reignited sustained interest in the case.
It has notably spurred renewed backlash against the former New York prosecutor, Linda Fairstein, who oversaw the prosecutions of the five teenagers on numerous counts. Their convictions were vacated in 2002 after a serial rapist and murderer confessed to the crime and DNA evidence linked him to it.
During an interview with The Washington Post last year, DuVernay’s sister, Jina, discussed their mother’s willingness to help others.
She said that as a child she remembered seeing their mother once instinctively jump to a man’s aid at an IHOP after he came out of a restroom at the restaurant naked and in distress.
“No manager did that, no employee did that,” she said, adding that Maye always went “that extra inch” to help others.
People on Twitter celebrated learning of Maye’s surprise appearance in the series: