Jharrel Jerome Talks About Making Emmy History with Lead Actor Win

When They See Us tells the true story of the Central Park Five being wrongfully convicted. The heartbreaking show received multiple Emmy nominations and won outstanding casting for a limited series, movie, or special.

Jharrel Jerome also won for his role. Find out how he made Emmy history and what he had to say about it.

Jharrel Jerome played Korey Wise in ‘When They See Us’

The Moonlight actor played Korey Wise in the show. He was the only one to play the teenage and adult version of his character. Jerome talked about what it was like to prepare for the role.

“A lot of being grounded in myself was spending time with Korey, understanding that who he is today is exactly who he was before he was in prison,” Jerome told Deadline. “I think he rebuilt who he wants to be and who he is.”

The actor continued, “You could not even tell he went through what he went through. Just his spirit, how strong he is—he will give you a hug no matter who you are. He says hi to everybody in the streets of Harlem. He went and bought me a pair of sneakers and I begged him not to. That’s just who he is as a person.”

He won an Emmy for outstanding lead actor in a limited series

Jharrel Jerome poses with award for Outstanding Lead Actor in a Limited Series or Movie in the press room during the 71st Emmy Awards
Jharrel Jerome poses with award for Outstanding Lead Actor in a Limited Series or Movie in the press room during the 71st Emmy Awards Frazer Harrison/Getty Images

All of that preparation paid off. Jerome took home the Emmy for outstanding lead actor in a limited series.

The actor received a standing ovation for his win. He revealed how he felt during his acceptance speech.

“I feel like I should just be in the Bronx right now, chilling, waiting for my mom’s cooking or something. But I’m here in front of my inspirations. I’m here in front of people I’m so motivated by, and the reason I’m here is because of actors like the people I was in the category with,” he said according to Entertainment Tonight.

He went on to thank other people. “I have to thank my mom who is with me today, my beautiful mother. I couldn’t do it without her. … Of course Ava [DuVernay], thank you for giving me this opportunity,” the actor said. “But most importantly, this is for the men we know as the Exonerated Five.”

He is the first Afro-Latino actor to win an acting Emmy

The 21-year-old Dominican American actor is the first Afro-Latino to win an Emmy for acting. He talked about the significance of this backstage.

It’s an honor. It’s a blessing, and I hope this is a step forward for Dominicans, for Latinos, for Afro-Latinos,” he said according to Entertainment Tonight. “It’s about time we are here.”

Other stars tweeted in celebration of Jerome. One revealed a cool connection they had.

Lin-Manuel Miranda tweeted, “I meet the brilliant @JharrelJerome, who looked SO familiar in @ava’s heartbreaking work of art, @WhenTheySeeUs. He tells me, ‘I don’t know if you remember me, but you came to my high school performance of In The Heights, I played Usnavi.'”