The four-part Netflix series is based on the events of the 1988 Central Park jogger case, where five men of color were prosecuted on false charges related to a sexual assault. In his favorable review, IndieWire’s Ben Travers noted that the miniseries was unafraid to show scenes of racism and the prosecutor’s cruelty to evoke emotions. The men in the real-life case were wrongfully convicted and the state of New York withdrew their charges after the actual perpetrator confessed to the crime in 2002.
Jerome, who started acting when he was 13 years old, is the fourth black actor to win an Emmy for Outstanding Lead Actor in a Limited Series or Movie. The other black actors who earned Emmys in the category were Louis Gossett Jr. in 1977, Andre Braugher in 2006, and Courtney B. Vance in 2016.
The actor recently told IndieWire that after starring in such emotionally intense dramas, he would be eager to work on comedy projects in the future. Regardless, Jerome stressed that he would always want to highlight stories about society’s marginalized, regardless of the genre.
“If I can imitate life and be a beacon for people who recognize themselves in the characters I play, then my goal is accomplished,” Jerome said. “I just want to be a part of the kinds of projects that I watched when I was a kid, that made me realize the importance of representation on screen. I also want longevity and to build a legacy for myself and the people I represent.”
Jerome also portrayed a teenage Kevin in the acclaimed 2016 film “Moonlight.” “When They See Us” also secured an Emmy for Outstanding Casting for a Limited Series, Movie or Special during the Creative Arts Emmys last week.
The 71st Primetime Emmys aired Sunday, Sept. 22 at 8 p.m. ET on Fox. Follow IndieWire on Twitter and Facebook for all the latest Emmys news, including live updates as the awards air Sunday night. You can also read all of IndieWire’s Emmys coverage on our awards homepage.