In 2019, Jharrel Jerome was the first Afro-Latino and Dominican actor to win an Emmy. You may recognize him from the film “Moonlight” or “When They See Us,” the miniseries for which he won the award.
As an Adult Cross Cultural Kid, Jerome falls under both categories of being someone of mixed race as well as someone who represents multiple minorities.
Backstage after accepting his award he told reporters,
I hope this is a step forward for Dominicans, for Latinos, for Afro-Latinos, it’s about time we’re here.
Diversity in film … or lack thereof
The Hollywood film industry has been heavily criticized in the past couple of decades for a lack of representation when it comes to actors and actresses. When film was in its early stages in the 20th century, they lacked characters of color.
For African Americans, this was because of segregation and directors would use white people to portray a black person. This is also more commonly known today as whitewashing. White actors would paint their faces black to emulate a person of color.
Since then, more recent films and shows have been demonstrating an effort to have more representation for minorities and other races when casting for a movie or TV series. For example, “Crazy Rich Asians” was a hit at the box office, grossing $238.5 million worldwide and not a single white person was used in the cast.
Jerome growing up
Jerome was born in The Bronx, New York, U.S.A. where his mother and father raised him.
“I was that Latino kid in school,” he told Vibe.com. “I grew up as the kid wearing the baggy pants and the hoodies. I was from the Bronx, you know, but speaking that Spanish dialect, and these people from Manhattan — they’ve never heard that before.”
Although Jerome felt like an outsider growing up, that helped shape the person he is today. As an actor, especially for “Moonlight,” he was able to use his diversity from real life and apply it to his character in the film.
Jerome attended LaGuardia High School of Performing Arts where he fell in love with acting and music. The reasoning behind this is because they have a very culturally diverse climate and he was able to feel accepted by his peers.
Moving forward, it’s important for this movement of diverse performers in the industry to continue and represent those in their community who may feel like an outcast because of their skin color and physical traits.