The Exonerated Five were shown giving a standing ovation during Sunday night’s Emmy Awards ceremony after Bronx-born Jharrel Jerome took home the award for lead actor in a limited series for When They See Us.
The four-part Netflix series explores the true story of five Black and Latino teenagers from Harlem who were coerced into confessing to a rape they did not commit in 1989 and follows them over the course of 25 years to their eventual exoneration.
“I feel like I should just be in the Bronx right now, chillin,’ waiting for my mom’s cooking but I’m here,” the actor said as he accepted his award f for his amazing portrayal of both young and adult Korey Wise in the Netflix’s series.
Jerome beat out other nominees Mahershala Ali (True Detective), Benicio Del Toro (Escape at Dannemora), Hugh Grant (A Very English Scandal), Jared Harris (Chernobyl) and Sam Rockwell (Fosse/Verdon).
About Jharrel Jerome
Jerome was born in 1997 and raised in the Bronx, New York. He grew up in a close-knit family with parents who he described as “loving”.
His mother suggested he pursue acting when he was in eighth grade, after which he joined the Riverdale Children’s Theatre, a local youth theatre organization. He attended and graduated from Fiorello H. LaGuardia High School, commuting to Manhattan each day by train.
Shortly after Jerome enrolled as an undergraduate at Ithaca College, he was cast in his first professional acting role in the 2016 independent film Moonlight, as young Kevin. A.O. Scott wrote in the New York Times that he was “excellent” in the role. Director Barry Jenkins said about Jerome, in an interview with the Los Angeles Times, “When you watch Jharrel in that movie, he’s not a guy who’s been over-rehearsing. That’s a dude learning by doing. It’s amazing.”
Since 2017, Jerome has appeared in the Audience series Mr. Mercedes. He auditioned for the role of young Korey Wise in the 2019 Netflix miniseries When They See Us, based on the Central Park jogger case. After his audition the series’ director, Ava DuVernay, asked him to read the lines for adult Korey Wise, and he was subsequently cast in both roles. Jerome grew close to Wise throughout filming, and said in a Los Angeles Times interview, “He’s my brother now. I look up to him. I look up to his courage. He’s taught me so much on how to be strong.”