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How Ava DuVernay’s Passion For Injustice Led To Directing “When They See Us”



It’s been 30 years since The Central Park Five were wrongly convicted and sent to prison for a crime they didn’t commit. Now Ava DuVernay’s epic 4-part mini series When They See Us is coming to Netflix with hopes of showing the humanity behind the five men who endured this unthinkable tragedy.

“I am deeply moved by issues of injustice and the ways we can all change it,” explained DuVernay on why she wanted to direct the project. “If we talk about it, we don’t let it go …  we can, I believe that, I’m hopeful.”

We caught up with DuVernay at the Apollo in Harlem for the world premiere, as well as the real life men — Antron McCray, Kevin Richardson, Yusef Salaam, Raymond Santana, Jr., and Korey Wise, who appreciate DuVernay for honoring them in this way.

If you don’t know the story, you soon will. In 1989 five Harlem teenage boys were wrongfully convicted of raping Trisha Meili in Central Park. Cops were adamant they were guilty and labeled them “a wolf pack” while they were persecuted in the media. The four-part limited series explores each facet of this unforgettable and infuriating tragedy:

  1. Five teenage boys “wylin” in Central Park on one fateful night leads to charges that will unknowingly change the course of their lives forever.
  2. The trial and the heartbreaking verdict.
  3. Prison and returning to life after prison.
  4. The life, inner-death, and rebirth of Korey Wise who unlike the others served time in adult prison.

To help bring this story to life DuVernay assembled a stellar cast including: Asante Blackk (Young Kevin), Caleel Harris (Young Antron), Ethan Herisse (Young Yusef), Marquis Rodriguez (Young Freddy), Jharrel Jerome (Young /Adult Korey), Jovan Adepo (Adult Antron), Chris Chalk (Adult Yusef), Freddy Miyares (Adult Freddy), Justin Cunningham (Adult Kevin), Marsha Stephanie Blake (Linda McCray), Aunjanue Ellis (Sharon Salaam), Niecy Nash (Delores Wise), Michael Kenneth Williams (Bobby McCray), Omar J. Dorsey (Elombre Brath), Adepero Oduye (Nomsa Brath), Storm Reid (Lisa), Aurora Perrineau (Tanya), John Leguizamo (Raymond Santana, Sr.), Vera Farmiga (Elizabeth Lederer), Blair Underwood (Bobby Burns), Joshua Jackson (Mickey Joseph), Felicity Huffman (Linda Fairstein), and more.

When They See Us premieres May 31 on Netflix.


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