Ava DuVernay’s Central Park Five series ‘When They See Us’ drops a potent teaser

Asante Blackk as Kevin Richardson in "When They See Us."
Asante Blackk as Kevin Richardson in “When They See Us.”
(Atsushi Nishijima / Netflix)

“When They See Us,” director Ava DuVernay’s limited series based on the decades-long case of Harlem’s Central Park Five, will premiere on Netflix on May 31.

In a minute-long teaser released Friday, the filmmaker, who directed and co-wrote the series, gives a mother’s glimpse at the five teenagers of color who were wrongly convicted of the rape of a Central Park jogger.

“You watch them grow, and you start to think you did a good job. And then one night, you look away,” the mother says as her son readies himself to leave the house, only to be detained by police moments later.


The “film in four parts,” as Duvernay called it on Twitter, will focus on Antron McCray, Kevin Richardson, Yusef Salaam, Raymond Santana and Korey Wise and begins in spring 1989, when the teens were first questioned about the alleged rape.

From there, “When They See Us” will span 25 years of the notorious case, highlighting their exoneration in 2002 and the settlement reached with the city of New York in 2014, Netflix said.

DuVernay (“Selma,” “13th,” “A Wrinkle in Time”) described the teens as “millions of young people of color who are blamed, judged and accused on sight,” and the filmmaker promised to show “who they really are.”


The cast includes Michael K. Williams, Vera Farmiga, John Leguizamo, Felicity Huffman, Niecy Nash, Blair Underwood, Christopher Jackson, Joshua Jackson, Omar Dorsey, Adepero Oduye, Famke Janssen, Aurora Perrineau, William Sadler, Jharrel Jerome, Jovan Adepo, Aunjanue Ellis, Kylie Bunbury, Marsha Stephanie Blake, Storm Reid, Chris Chalk, Freddy Miyares, Justin Cunningham, Ethan Herisse, Caleel Harris, Marquis Rodriguez and Asante Blackk.

“When They See Us” is produced through DuVernay’s Forward Movement banner, and it’s executive produced by Oprah Winfrey’s Harpo Films, Participant Media and Tribeca Productions.