Dominican Actor Jharrel Jerome Receives First-Ever Emmy Nod for ‘When They See Us’


Dominican-American actor Jharrel Jerome received his first-ever Emmy nomination for his role in Ava DuVernay’s Netflix limited series When They See Us

“I’m going crazy over here. I feel like I’m on a whole other planet right now,” Jerome told The Hollywood Reporter after the nominations were revealed.

The 21-year-old actor broke into the industry after starring in the 2016 Oscar-winning film Moonlight and now he’s front and center as Korey Wise in the limited series. He was also the only actor in When They See Us that portrayed his character from childhood to adulthood.

“The first time I met Korey, he took off the chain around his neck and put it on my neck and said, ‘You’re the king now. You’re Korey Wise,'” Jerome added.

When They See Us is a four-part series that tells the story of five Black and Latino teens who were wrongfully convicted of raping a white woman jogging in Central Park in 1989. Wise was the oldest of the five at 16 years old. Unlike the others who were tried as minors, Wise was sentenced to five to 15 years — all of which were to be spent in an adult prison.

In addition to Jerome’s nomination, When They See Us received 15 other nominations, including 17-year-old Asante Blackk, who made history as the ninth youngest Emmy nominee of all time, for his depiction of Kevin Richardson. Blackk is up against Colombian actor John Leguizamo, who played Freddy Miyares’ father in When They See Us. And in case you didn’t know, the young 17-year-old is Samira Wiley’s nephew. Remember her as Poussey from Orange Is the New Black?

Although Latinx representation in the list of Emmy nominations is still lacking, it’s a small move in the right direction to see many Latinx actors receive their first Emmy nominations. Puerto Rican actor Benicio del Toro also received his first-ever nomination for his work in Showtime’s limited series Escape at Dannemora. Anthony Mendez, who narrates Jane the Virgin, received his third-ever nomination in the outstanding narrator category only this time it was for PBS’s docuseries Wonders of Mexico.

Aside from Latinx representation, Black actors also received well-deserved Emmy nominations. Pose actor Billy Porter, who plays ballroom emcee and fashion designer Pray Tell, made history as the first openly gay Black man nominated for an Emmy for lead actor in a drama. The FX series centered around the ballroom culture scene of the 1980s in New York City during the AIDS epidemic.

The cast of Pose has been applauded for its diverse and inclusive roster of actors — including non-gender conforming and the largest trans cast on scripted television — including Puerto Rican trans actresses MJ Rodriguez and Indya Moore. However, neither actress was nominated though the overall casting received a nomination.
Latinx representation is sparse in other categories despite prominent, award-worthy TV series including Vida, One Day at a Time and Jane the Virgin. The only nod ODAAT received was for its third consecutive nomination in outstanding multi-camera picture editing for a comedy series. Gina Rodriguez didn’t get any recognition for her role in JTV though Carmen Sandiego — where Rodriguez voices the titular character — did receive an outstanding children’s program nomination.

Next year will be the last chance she has to receive an Emmy nomination now that JTV is on its final season. But now that Vida is getting the attention and acclaim it deserves and ODAAT was picked up by a new network, there’s hope that next year will have Latinx actors showing up more than ever before.

Now, it’s time to brush up on all the work that Latinx and Black actors are nominated for. Here’s to hoping that Jharrel Jerome, John Leguizamo, Benicio del Toro, and Asante Blackk take home some Emmy’s.

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