When They See Us' Jharrel Jerome Dedicates First Emmy to the Exonerated Five
Sunday marked the first time that Hugh Grant, Benicio del Toro, Mahershala Ali, Jared Harris, Sam Rockwell and Jharrel Jerome were all up for an Emmy award
Jharrel Jerome is an Emmy Award-winning actor!
During Sunday night’s ceremony, Jerome took home the 2019 Emmy Award for outstanding lead actor in a limited series or a movie for his role as Korey Wise in When They See Us.
The win marks the first time that the actor has won an Emmy Award — and Jerome fought back tears as he was overcome with emotion while accepting his award on stage.
“I feel like I should just be in the Bronx right now chilling, waiting for my mom’s cooking or something, but I’m here in front of my inspirations,” Jerome, 21, began, pausing to contain himself. He then thanked his parents and family before dedicating his win to the Exonerated Five.
“Of course Ava [DuVernay], thank you for giving me this opportunity,” the first-time Emmy winner said. “Most importantly, this is for the men that we know as the Exonerated Five,” who were in the audience.
As Antron McCray, Kevin Richardson, Yusef Salaam, Raymond Santana, and Korey Wise stood at Jerome’s dedication, they received a standing ovation from many members of the audience.
Along with Jerome, the nominees were Hugh Grant (A Very English Scandal), Benicio del Toro (Escape At Dannemora), Mahershala Ali (True Detective), Jared Harris (Chernobyl) and Sam Rockwell (Fosse/Verdon).
As the youngest performer in the category, this is Jerome’s first-ever Emmy nomination.
The Bronx native portrays Wise in the four-part series, which tells the true story about five Black and Latino teens who were wrongfully convicted of raping a white woman in 1989, eventually referred to as the Central Park Five, or the Exonerated Five.
As the only actor in the show’s ensemble to play a character as both a child and adult, Jerome starred alongside Niecy Nash, who plays his mother in the series, and previously told PEOPLE how quickly they bonded on and off-screen.
“I remember the first time meeting Niecy, it was like … I met my mom for the first time,” he said. “I spent a lot of time doing a lot of solitary scenes where there was nobody else on the call sheet by my name.”
“So any of those days where I saw Niecy’s name on the call sheet, it was the best day ever,” he continued. “It felt like I was actually going to feel loved today, feel supported today. So just to have that real life and then that script version of love, it was just so strong.”
The actor’s breakthrough role came back in 2016, when he starred as the teen version of Kevin in Moonlight, alongside fellow category nominee, Ali.
The 71st Primetime Emmy Awards are airing live from the Microsoft Theater in Los Angeles starting at 8 p.m. ET/PT on Fox.