Ava DuVernay is tackling one of America’s most notorious injustices for her next project.
On Friday, she announced the details for her new Netflix limited series When They See Us, formerly known as The Central Park Five. The series will debut globally on Netflix on May 31. DuVernay said she changed the title of the project to break the individuals involved away from the media-invented moniker of “The Central Park Five.”
The limited series tells the story of the infamous event from the perspective of the five wrongly accused men, Antron McCray, Kevin Richardson, Yusef Salaam, Raymond Santana, and Korey Wise, who were convicted of a rape they did not commit. It tracks the lives of the five teenagers from Harlem, beginning in the spring of 1989 when they were first questioned about the incident, and spanning 25 years to highlight their 2002 exoneration and the 2014 settlement they reached with the city of New York.
DuVernay shared the first teaser for the project on her social media channels, featuring footage with a young black man leaving the safety of his bedroom to the scrutiny of police lights in Central Park to the sterile environment of a prison holding cell alongside several other young men. The voiceover of a parent speaking about raising her children opens the trailer and then contrasts with that of a police officer sending forces out to Harlem to round up “thugs.”
“In 1989, five black and brown teen boys were wrongly accused of a crime they did not commit and branded The Central Park Five, a moniker that has followed them since that time,” DuVernay said in a statement. “In 2019, our series gives the five men a platform to finally raise their voices and tell their full stories. In doing so, Korey, Antron, Raymond, Kevin, and Yusef also tell the story of many young people of color unjustly ensnared in the criminal justice system. We wanted to reflect this perspective in our title, embracing the humanity of the men and not their politicized moniker.”
DuVernay wrote and directed all four parts of the series, which she also produces alongside Jeff Skoll and Jonathan King from Participant Media, Oprah Winfrey from Harpo Films, and Jane Rosenthal, Berry Welsh, and Robert De Niro from Tribeca Productions. Attica Locke, Robin Swicord, and Michael Starrbury are also writers on the series.
Michael K. Williams, Vera Farmiga, John Leguizamo, Felicity Huffman, Niecy Nash, Blair Underwood, Joshua Jackson, and Hamilton’s Christopher Jackson comprise part of the starry cast.
Watch the clip above for more. When They See Us debuts May 31.