Beating out Mahershala Ali (True Detective), Benicio Del Toro (Escape at Dannemora), Hugh Grant (A Very English Scandal), Jared Harris (Chernobyl) and Sam Rockwell (Fosse/Verdon), Jerome, 21, took the stage while receiving a standing ovation. He played Korey Wise, who was 16 when jurors wrongfully convicted him of assault, sexual abuse, and rioting in the 1989 Central Park jogger case.
“I feel like I should just be in the Bronx right now, chilling, waiting for my mom’s cooking or something,” Jerome began. “But I’m here in front of my inspirations, I’m here in front of people who I’m so motivated by, and the reason I’m here is because [of] actors like the people I was in the category with. I have to thank my mom, who’s with me today, my beautiful mother. I couldn’t do it without her. My dad… of course Ava [DuVernay, creator of the miniseries], thank you for giving me this opportunity, Netflix, my team… But most importantly, this is for the men that we know as the Exonerated Five. Raymond [Santana], Yusef [Salaam], Antron [McCray], Kevin [Richardson], and King Korey Wise, thank you so much, it’s an honor, it’s a blessing.”
When They See Us, a four-parter from DuVernay spanning 25 years in the lives of the men known as the Central Park Five, including their wrongful conviction and eventual exoneration, was Netflix’s most-watched series in the days after its May 31 premiere.
Backstage, Jerome talked about how he is the first Afro Latino to win in the category. “It’s about time that we are here,” he told reporters. “Unfortunately I think our strongest stories are stories of pain considering that’s what we’re going through on a daily basis. I think the truth is our pain needs to be told. So if for the next 20 years we’re just painfully telling our stories until we move on, I guess so.”
As for why he dedicated the twin to the Central Park Five, Jerome added, “The project is entirely for them. Thirty years ago they were sitting in a prison cell falsely incarcerated and today they’re in suits styled by designers. Their names were [always going] to be mentioned.”