×
You will be redirected back to your article in seconds

Ava DuVernay, Niecy Nash Celebrate ‘When They See Us’ Emmy Nominations at J.J. Abrams-Hosted Screening

Ava DuVernay and the cast of her most recent project “When They See Us” celebrated their Emmy nominations with a special screening of the limited series Sunday night.

The four-part Netflix series about the men now known as “The Exonerated Five” received an impressive amount of recognition from the Television Academy, earning 16 nominations — the most Emmy nods for a program on the streaming service this year. As the awards show draws closer, DuVernay is anxious and hopeful for the five men the story is based on. In fact, DuVernay revealed that Korey Wise, Raymond Santana Jr., Kevin Richardson, Antron Mccray and Yusef Salaam will be escorting her on the big night.

“The most important thing is the way that the men’s lives have changed. The real ‘Exonerated Five’ — they live a different life now,” DuVernay told Variety on the red carpet at the Paramount Theatre. “People know that they’re innocent. They treat them like heroes. They treat them like survivors that they are. I see how this four-part film has really transformed them. That’s the best thing the movie could’ve done.”

Aside from the critical reaction, the series also created a loud cultural conversation among viewers. Jharrel Jerome told Variety the only projects with a comparable reaction to “When They See Us” are “Roots” and “Moonlight” — a film in which he also appeared. “[That film] was definitely a big gateway for young black gay men in cinema and their story being told,” he said. “Just to say that you can compare to that is really cool.”

DuVernay and Jerome were joined at the event by the Emmy-nominated cast, including lead actress contender Niecy Nash and first-time nominees Aunjanue Ellis, Marsha Stephanie Blake and Asante Blackk. Renowned pianist Kris Bowers — who also earned an Emmy nomination as the show’s composer — also delighted audiences at the event with a brief performance. The screening was followed by a conversation moderated by DuVernay’s close friend and filmmaker J.J. Abrams, who spoke with the cast about their experiences creating the series.

“For me to portray Delores Wise, it definitely cost me something as an artist because I spend the primary portion of my career making people laugh. So being funny and being known for being funny, I really wanted to make sure that people understood that I could play another note. I wanted to make sure of that because we are carrying a burden for people that are still with us,” Nash shared. “Some of these characters are still living so there’s a responsibility that comes along with that caliber of work. I wasn’t really prepared for what I would take home at the end of the day.”

The discussion quickly turned emotional as actors became teary reminiscing about the real people behind their performances. Blake — who earned an Emmy nomination for her performance as the late Linda McCray — told the crowd about her relationship with the woman she portrayed.

“She told us stories about her marriage with Bobby and how she always felt like he was her husband and when he wanted to come back home, the door was open because that was her husband. [And she shared details of] her relationship with Antron, her only child,” she recalled. “For her household going from being filled with all this male energy to being completely empty for years, the heartbreak of it is — when I think about it — is something that as a mom, I can’t even imagine.”

Blake also credited her cast members for their support. “With this wonderful relationship that Michael [Kenneth Williams] and Caleel [Harris] and I had, I just always felt very safe, but I also knew that at the end of the day I was pretending at something that someone had gone through. So the responsibility, to me, was to get it right and do it with love and kindness and honor it because as dramatic as it was for us to play at it, real people have gone through it,” she concluded.

More TV

  • MAKING IT -- Season: 1 --

    TV News Roundup: NBC Announces 'Making It' Season 2 Premiere Date

    In today’s TV news roundup, NBC announced the “Making It” Season 2 premiere date and HBO Max greenlit a new docuseries from Brad Goreski and Gary Janetti. DATES Hosts Amy Poehler and Nick Offerman will return with the second season of “Making It” on NBC Dec. 2. After the show’s holiday season premiere, the show [...]

  • Luis Fonsi Erika Ender Latin Grammys

    The Second Latin Explosion: How 'Despacito' Ushered in a New Generation of Stars

    Music is an ever-evolving art, and for the Latin Recording Academy, that’s meant riding multiple waves of attention. The most recent arrived with the stratospheric success of “Despacito,” which kicked off a second Latin Explosion with full force in 2017. The Luis Fonsi and Daddy Yankee hit, later featuring verses by Justin Bieber, made Latin [...]

  • TV Review: 'Catherine the Great' Starring

    TV Review: 'Catherine the Great' Starring Helen Mirren

    For some, “Dame Helen Mirren playing the Catherine the Great” is all the convincing they’ll need to watch this new biographical limited series, which is perfectly understandable. The casting of Mirren in the role, which follows the Russian empress in the embattled latter years of her life, is a smart choice that proves its worth [...]

  • Ricky Martin Celia Cruz Gloria Estefan

    From Idea to Legacy: Latin Grammy Awards Mark 20 Years of Global Recognition

    The idea of creating a separate organization to honor the diversity of Latin music was a discussion that took place for years before it actually happened, but an event driven by one of pop music’s most important crossover artists solidified it. During the 41st Grammy Awards ceremony, a young Ricky Martin was scheduled to perform [...]

  • Science Fair

    Disney Plus Fleshes Out Nonfiction Slate, Including 'Howard,' 'Science Fair,' Mickey Mouse Docu

    Disney Plus further fleshed out its nonfiction content slate at an International Documentary Association showcase event Friday, as the streamer, preparing for its Nov. 12 launch, continues to flesh out its programming strategy. Among the announcements: The streamer has acquired the global distribution rights to “Howard,” the Don Hahn-directed documentary about “Aladdin” and “Beauty and [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content