The 21-year-old actor got a standing ovation as he won the award for Outstanding Lead Actor in a Limited Series or Movie for his role as Korey Wise in When They See Us. His fellow nominees, Mahershala Ali, Benicio Del Toro, Hugh Grant, Jared Harris and Sam Rockwell paid their respects to his win, but it was the Exonerated Five who cheered the loudest for the Dominican actor. Jerome is the first Afro-Latino to win an acting award at the Emmys.
"I feel like I should just be in the Bronx right now, chilling, waiting for my mom's cooking or something. But I'm here in front of my inspirations. I'm here in front of people I'm so motivated by, and the reason I'm here is because of actors like the people I was in the category with," Jerome said in his moving acceptance speech.
"I have to thank my mom who is with me today, my beautiful mother. I couldn't do it without her. ... Of course Ava [DuVernay], thank you for giving me this opportunity," he continued. "But most importantly, this is for the men we know as the Exonerated Five."
Antron McCay, Raymond Santana, Kevin Richardson, Korey Wise and Yusef Salaam, who walked the red carpet with DuVernay, rose from their seats, giving Jerome a loud applause. "It's for Raymond, Yusef, Antron, Kevin and King Korey Wise," the actor said. "Thank you so much. It's an honor. It's a blessing."
ET spoke with Jerome just after his Emmy nomination was revealed in July, where he shared that his mom would be accompanying him to the awards show.
"You can bring it all the way back to all the high-school performances she came to see me in, all the middle-school performances, we have so many photos, where were in like a suit and a dress, in front of something. I think this one is definitely going to be the most special one so far," he shared.
Jerome also discussed how surreal it was to be nominated in the same category as Ali, with whom he starred in Moonlight, his first film.
"He just had the greatest words of advice and it was to stay strong," he said. "Now that I get to go see him at the Emmys and say, 'Wassup? We're in the same category,' it's a blessing."
Jerome said the "greatest part," however, was the 16 nominations total that When They See Us earned. "It's not just me. It's the entire family. It's Ava," he expressed. "I'm just happy for them as well."