Ava DuVernay’s When They See Us Launching on Netflix in May

When They See Us

When They See Us

In 1989, a woman named Trisha Meili was jogging through New York's Central Park when she was attacked and sexually assaulted. In the immediate wake of the crimes, five young men were arrested and arraigned on an unimaginable battery of charges. They spent anywhere from six to 13 years in prison until four of their convictions were overturned.

This year, Ava DuVernay will be giving the story the true-crime limited series treatment, a genre very much in vogue after The People vs OJ and The Assassination of Gianni Versace.

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As she put it on Twitter when announcing the first look at her four-part Netflix series, When They See Us, she wants to show us who they really are: "Not thugs". Now titled When They See Us, Duvernay chronicles the notorious case of five teenagers of color, labeled the Central Park Five, who were accused of a rape they did not commit. Pointedly, the Selma director is avoiding the moniker used by the media to describe Antron McCray, Kevin Richardson, Yusef Salaam, Raymond Santana Jr. and Korey Wise. "They are Korey, Antron, Raymond, Yusef, Kevin". "In 2019, our series gives the five men a platform to finally raise their voices and tell their full stories", said DuVernay today on the name change. "We wanted to reflect this perspective in our title, embracing the humanity of the men and not their politicized moniker".

DuVernay directs and co-writes all four parts, while other writers on the limited series include Attica Locke, Robin Swicord, and Michael Starrbury. It tracks the lives of the five teenagers from Harlem, beginning in the spring of 1989 when they were first questioned about the incident, and spanning 25 years to highlight their 2002 exoneration and the 2014 settlement they reached with the city of NY. Jeff Skoll and Jonathan King from Participant Media, Oprah Winfrey/Harpo Films, Jane Rosenthal and Berry Welsh from Tribeca Productions and DuVernay EP When They See Us. It stars the likes of Jovan Adepo (recently seen in Overlord), Hamilton star Christopher Jackson, A Wrinkle In Time's Storm Reid, Michael K. Williams, Vera Farmiga, Felicity Huffman, Famke Janssen, John Leguizamo, and more.

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