There’s a scene in When They See Us, when Korey Wise, played by Moonlight star and Emmy winner Jharrel Jerome, is being attacked in his prison cell by gang of inmates. He’s desperately holding onto the cell bars and screaming for his life when a corrections officer walks over, beats his knuckles with a baton forcing Wise into the arms of his attackers. They pound on him and then blood sheds as he is stabbed in the flank with some object. Jerome grimaces with pain and grits his teeth, unleashing spit from the corners of his mouth. It’s an intense scene that feels like trauma porn, but it’s not, it’s real life.
From the moment Jharell hit the screen, he played Wise to a tee. He captures his stutter, his naiveness, his fear. And when he’s on the stand, his illiteracy, and frustration. Jharell delivered a performance so emotional, the pain feels unreal.
Backstage at the Emmys where he made history on Sunday night, he was asked about the Academy continuing to award stories that center on Black plain, the 21-year-old kept it 100.
“Unfortunately, I think our strongest stories are the stories of pain considering that’s what we go through on a daily basis. It is unfortunate that comedies or light pieces of work aren’t as praised and aren’t sent to the award season, ” he said, adding, “The truth is our pain needs to be told. So if it has to be for the next 20 years where we are just painfully telling our stories until we can move on then I guess it has to be.”
This is a young man wise beyond his years and with this immense amount of talent, charisma, and passion, it’s no wonder why he’s Hollywood’s next big thing: