All weekend long, all over the timeline I’ve been reading tweets about how Ava Duvernay’s When They See Us mini-series has been difficult to watch. One person captures the emotions of every Black parent watching the show saying, “I have not felt right all day” adding that what happened to Korey, Tron, Kevin, Yusef and Raymond is one of the biggest fears if you’re a parent of black boys.
I sat down with the actors who play the younger version of the Central Park 5 but more appropriately the EXONERATED 5 to discuss When They See Us. Jharrel Jerome, Caleel Harris, Asante Blackk, Ethan Herisse, and Marquis Rodriquez all gave poignant answers during our discussion that really captured the honor they felt being apart of such an important story for our people. Asante Blackk, who plays young Tron said, he felt, “Immense gratitude, at that the fact that Ava trusted us with telling such an important story.” Adding that the role goes way over the top of his head.
Jharell who plays Korey Wise also chimed in about the opportunity. “This is way bigger than us, way over our careers. For me, it’s larger than that. These men are real, these men are here. I didn’t even feel like I was acting,” adding he felt like he was watching these falsely accused men and their stories.
This opportunity also opened their eyes to what’s really going on in America. “I started to finally become aware of what was really going on and how we are really being treated. I never really knew how unjust the criminal justice system is and how twisted it could be and how it can be manipulated and formed against black and brown boys,” said Caleel Harris the actor who plays Tron.
Marquise who plays young Raymond explain more about the injustices Black kids face, “That’s the crime… its specifical children of color and adults of color, but the children are holding a weight where they are not allowed to be kids.” Adding that When They See Us” makes “You have to look at the childhood that was robbed from them you cannot look away.”
Perhaps the move vulnerable answer came from Ethan Herisse who revealed that he has a genuine fear of being pulled over by the cops because he knows as little much as speeding can be the end of his life. Highlighting the fears that all young black kids feel just living.
When They See Us is steaming now on Netflix and it’s a must see.