‘When They See Us’: Jharrel Jerome Walked Through Fire to Bring Korey Wise’s Story to the Screen

IndieWire | 8/22/2019 | Staff
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At only 21 years old, and in just the third year of a fledgling career, Jharrel Jerome has accomplished something that not many at his age and experience have done: he’s been nominated for a lead acting Emmy for his critically-acclaimed performance as Korey Wise in Netflix’s series on the story of the Central Park Five, “When They See Us,” directed by Ava DuVernay.

Since the four-part series premiered on May 31, Jerome, the only actor in the main cast to carry an entire episode (and also play both younger and older versions of his character), has seen his star rise rapidly. Suddenly thrust into a spotlight he wasn’t at all ready for, he isn’t adjusting to it very well.

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“I’m just very numb to everything that’s going on, to be honest,” he said. “Everything is happening so quickly, and you don’t really get a tutorial on how this all works, so I’m just trying to keep my head on straight. Jerome, who started acting at 13 years old, credits his family (his mother especially, who he said he’s very close to) and his management team for keeping him grounded and focused.

And should he win in his category – Outstanding Lead Actor in a Limited Series or Movie – it would make him only the third black actor to do so in the entire history of the Emmys. It would be a well-earned honor, given the physical and psychological toll that embodying Wise took on him. While all Five stories are tragic, Wise’s was especially so.

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Storm Reid and Jharrel Jerome in “When They See Us”

At 16, Wise was the oldest of the Five. He struggled with hearing problems and a learning disability from an early age, making him especially vulnerable to a coerced false confession. And unlike the other four teens who...
(Excerpt) Read more at: IndieWire
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