Ava DuVernay retells the gut-wrenching story of the Central Park Five in her newest Netflix series “When They See Us.”

Raymond Santana. Kevin Richardson. Antron McCray. Yusef Salaam. Korey Wise. These are the names of men who were boys, ages 14, 15 and 16, when they were robbed: of their childhoods, of their innocence, of a fair trial.

For the first time, this story is being told from the perspective of the five teens whose lives were derailed by a justice system and media eager to vilify them. (“Ninety percent of the articles written during that time didn’t use the word ‘alleged,’” the director notes.) DuVernay brilliantly and powerfully captures what they were denied for decades.

“I just felt the story very deeply from the minute that I met them,” she told HuffPost, recalling how she and Santana had a Twitter conversation that sparked their relationship. “They asked me to consider telling their story. Looking in their eyes, and hearing their story ― I remember sitting and talking to them, and seeing the boy in them. I could see the young person in them who’d been lost somehow.” D

DuVernay spent a lot of time, she says, researching and meditating on whether she was the one to tell their story. As she mulled over court cases, press coverage and conversations with the men, she realized
this story “was mine to tell.”