Jharrel Jerome took home the award for Outstanding Lead Actor in a Limited Series or Movie at the 71st annual Emmy Awards Sunday night for his role in Ava DuVernay’s Netflix series “When They See Us.”
The 21-year-old portrayed a teenage and adult Korey Wise in the series, which told the story of the five Black and Latino teenagers who were wrongly convicted of raping a white 28-year-old female jogger in New York City’s Central Park in 1989.
An emotional Jerome accepted the award ― his first Emmy win, and his first time nominated ― by sharing his gratitude for a number of people, including his mother and DuVernay.
He then honored the men who spent years behind bars before their convictions were vacated in 2002, after DNA evidence and a confession linked a convicted murderer and serial rapist to the crime.
“This is for the men that we know as the Exonerated Five,” he said, before acknowledging Kevin Richardson, Raymond Santana Jr., Yusef Salaam, Antron McCray and “King Korey Wise.”
Wise, the oldest of the five, spent nearly 13 years behind bars. He has worked to raise awareness of wrongful convictions and institutional injustices.
Jerome had previously starred as Kevin in 2016’s Oscar-winning “Moonlight,” directed by Barry Jenkins.