Ava DuVernay’s When They See Us tells the story of five teenagers—known around the country as The Central Park Five—who were wrongfully convicted of sexually assaulting a jogger in Central Park back in the 80s.
Throughout the Netflix series, which consists of four tense, gut-wrenching episodes, are snippets of Donald Trump attacking the teens in the media. This isn’t an actor playing the shoddy real estate mogul. This is real footage of our current commander-in-chief.
ESSENCE asked the stars of the series, Ethan Herisse, Caleel Harris, Jharrel Jerome, Asante Blackk, and Marquis Rodriguez, to share how they think Trump would react to When They See Us in his favorite medium, Twitter.
“Realistically, he’ll probably double down,” Herisse told ESSENCE during an interview in New York City earlier this month. “In my dreams, hopefully, he’ll realize, ‘Oh, I was on the wrong side in 1989. I was wrong for taking out a full-page ad calling for the death of teenagers for a crime they did not commit.'”
Korey Wise, Yusef Salaam, Raymond Santana, Antron McCray and Kevin Richardson each served between 6 and 13 years in prison. Their convictions were vacated in 2002 when Matias Reyes admitted to the crime. The men settled a lawsuit back in 2014 with the city for $41 million for their wrongful convictions.
Still, the actors who portray The Central Park Five onscreen, said the series is not about Trump. Instead, it calls attention to a deep injustice these Black boys suffered at the hands of the police, criminal justice system and even the media.
“This project is the farthest thing from being about him,” Jerome, who’s already garnering praise of his portrayal of Wise, clarified. “We did this for those men. He just happens to be a very negative part of the story.”
When They See Us arrives Friday on Netflix.