Crisis Counselors were on set for "‘When They See Us' cast and crew

Crisis Counselors were on set for "‘When They See Us' cast and crew

Age 17

Asante Blackk, is a passionate young actor who loves his craft. He was born and raised in Maryland to Ayize and Aiyana Ma'at both clinical social workers and couples therapists. Coming from a long line of preachers, social activists and counselors Asante grew up in a spiritually grounded and socially conscious family.

Asante has worked with Nickelodeon to recreate the SpongeBob, Danny Phantom, and Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles theme songs with a rap twist. Asante started acting at only 6 years old. He was cast as Mowgli in The Jungle Book in 2008, which ignited his passion. e also played the role of Kevin Richardson in the Netflix limited series 'When They See Us'

He played the role of Kevin Richardson in the Netflix limited series 'When They See Us'

Andre Robinson

Age 16

He joined Nickelodeon in 2015, and voiced AJ from Blaze and the Monster Machines, then later in 2016, he provided the voice of Clyde McBride on The Loud House[1] until season 3, where Andre Robinson succeeded him in the role due to Harris's puberty. Harris also played Duke in Think Like a Man and its sequel Think Like A Man Too.[2] He is the younger brother of Curtis Harris, known for his starring role of Miles Preston on The Haunted Hathaways.

Ethan Herisse

17

Ethan Herisse is an American Actor, Model and Social Media personality from Los Angeles, California. His first big break he appeared in the TV show “About a Boy”, and then casted on the Netflix series where he played “Yusef Salaam.


Marquis Rodriguez

Marquis Rodriguez Luke CageMarquis played the role of Darryl in the Luke Cage episode Take It Personal and the Iron Fist episodes Shadow Hawk Takes Flight, Rolling Thunder Cannon Punch, Eight Diagram Dragon Palm, Felling Tree with Roots and Black Tiger Steals Heart.

Jharrel Jerome

American actor whose role as young Kevin in the award-winning 2016 drama Moonlight proved to be his big breakthrough. He is also known for his work on Mr. Mercedes and Robu. The film's success has led to him being cast in films like Monster and shows like Mr. Mercedes and Netflix's When They See Us.


How did DuVernay decide to create this series?

The Netflix series was first created with the help of social media.  In 2014, one of the then-teenagers who became known as the “Central Park Five” who was convicted of raping and bearing a 28-year old jogger in New York tweeted.  Ava DuVernay responded and Santana asked her if she would be interested in the story. She was.  

 

Casting

DuVernay invited all five (Korey Wise, Yusef Salaam, Kevin Richardson, Antron McCray, and Raymond Santana) to weigh in on casting of their characters.

While watching this compiling series, I couldn’t help but think of the five lead actors.  During the time of the shooting, the majority of the five actors were until the age of 16, which means these actors had to abide by the Child Labor Law in the state in which the film is being made. I have worked with children and adults as an agent and have booked them in horror and films.  There are sometimes psychological effects when the actors are in “character”. To my knowledge, there are no official guidelines from SAG or the Child Labor Laws other than payment policies such as Coogan's Law.   I have heard from directors that when working with children on violent films or shows they go over the scene and storyboard very carefully with the child's parents/guardians (although this isn't always constructive as many parents will let their child do anything to get them on-screen).  However, the editing, filming techniques, and set attitude can seriously change the perception of what is actually going on.  Some parents will go on set to make sure that the child in question isn't overly exposed to "uncomfortable elements."  Not all the five were kids at the time, but still very young.

 

The Actors emotional state  

According to The Wrap, for some of the actors, the experience was both traumatic and deeply emotional. “I always brought my work home,” said Jerome, the “Moonlight” star who shot 10 straight days of solitary confinement in a real prison.

“I could never go home and not think about Korey. Not think about what I did on set. I would have nightmares. I would wake up and be afraid to go to work, afraid to go back in that headspace. But I knew it was for a purpose bigger than me.”

Crisis Counselor

The actors and everyone on set filming the recently released Netflix miniseries, When They See Us, had access to crisis counseling to help with the heavy, based-on-real-life material portrayed on screen. 

Jerome never called the crisis counselor, though. Instead, he took his inspiration from Wise himself. “When I first met Korey, he took the chain off his neck and said, ‘You’re Korey Wise now,'” he said. “It was an absolute responsibility — but in front of a man like that, you feel nothing but confident.

“He was the therapeutic part of the process, knowing he is alive, that he smiles and hugs people and tells them he loves them. Walking the street as a confident man. He is the strongest human on the planet. I’ve never met someone more inspiring.”

They were also present on set during the emotional re-creations of the police interrogations and supposed confessions and what followed.  

Blackk gave DuVernay credit for helping the actors get through tough scenes, like the court verdict. "She was always there for a shoulder to lean on," he said. His co-star Harris agreed that DuVernay didn't just provide access to counseling but gave it out herself. "I felt like [DuVernay] was really just that blanket and comforter on set," he said.