Emmy Award Winner: Jharrel Jerome
Jharrel Jerome is the first Afro-Latino Actor to win an Emmy for Acting. Doesn’t that sentence kind of take your breath away? I first witnessed his talent when he portrayed young Kevin in Moonlight and I fell in love with his talent when I watched him play Korey Wise in Ava DuVernay’s When They See Us.
I watched When They See Us when it was first released on Netflix; it took me a week and a half to get through all four episodes and I never got around to writing a review on it. The series, though necessary and beautiful in its depiction of the events, completely emotionally drained me and I found it too difficult to revisit my feelings about the show when the tears had yet to dry on my face. I will say, though it’s frustrating and painful to watch When They See Us, it should be considered required viewing for everyone.
The series is based on the 5 boys who were wrongfully convicted of the rape of Trisha Meili, a white woman who was jogging in Central Park. Raymond Santana, Kevin Richardson, Antron McCray, Yusef Salaam and Korey Wise were all teenagers when they were wrongfully convicted of the crime.
Though every single actor/actress involved in the series absolutely excelled in their portrayals, Jharrel Jerome as Korey Wise was truly transformative. He played with the art of subtlety at times while forcing a visceral reaction from the audience at other times. Jharrel perfectly adapted Korey’s cadence and mannerisms; he took the script and allowed the words to move through him in a beautiful way. I often found myself reaching for him, I felt the unnerving need to cuddle him and it was all amplified as I remembered that he was portraying a real person. Korey Wise didn’t get to shake off the feeling when Ava yelled “cut”.
The series was so much more than a 4-episode journey, it stays with you long after you finish it. You feel everything in waves afterwards and though it’s painful to remember that these 5 men have gone to hell and back at the hands of our justice system; it eases the pain to think that Ava has given a new breath of life to the exonerated five. This new life is full of hope, healing and celebration. This new life will never take away from the pain that they had to live through but I hope the if anything, it makes the memories a little bit easier to handle.
As for Jharrel Jerome, it is abundantly clear that this is only the beginning for him. I will say it again: the first Afro-Latino actor to win an Emmy for acting! If that’s not peak LATINX Heritage Month, then I don’t know what is.