‘When They See Us’ star Jharrel Jerome could be first man in his 20s to win Best Limited Series/TV Movie Actor Emmy

Last year, Darren Criss became the second youngest Emmy winner in the Best Limited Series/TV Movie Actor category when the then-31-year-old took home the award for “The Assassination of Gianni Versace: American Crime Story.” But he may get knocked back to third youngest this year. “When They See Us” star Jharrel Jerome is 21 and would be the first twentysomething to win that category.

First awarded in 1955, Best Limited Series/TV Movie Actor, which has underdone various name changes over the years, has long favored middle-aged men and seasoned thespians. Anthony Murphy holds the record as the category’s youngest winner, just 17 when he prevailed for “Tom Brown’s Schooldays” in 1973, which was also his first and only acting role. Actors in their 20s have completely struck out here and only 12 men in their 30s have won.

Three of those thirtysomething champs triumphed in the last five years: Criss, of course, Riz Ahmed, who was 34 at the time of his victory for “The Night Of” in 2017, and Benedict Cumberbatch, who was 38 when he pulled off an upset in 2014 for “Sherlock: His Last Vow.” Criss bumped back then-32-year-olds Peter Strauss (“The Jericho Mile”) and Powers Boothe (“Guyana Tragedy: The Story of Jim Jones”), who won in in back-to-back years in 1979 and 1980.

SEE Jharrel Jerome ‘would be crying uncontrollably’ playing Korey Wise on ‘When They See Us’ [EXCLUSIVE VIDEO INTERVIEW]

At least thirtysomethings have a presence in this category. It’s hard for twentysomethings to even get nominated here. The last nominee in his 20s was Jonathan Rhys Meyers, who was 12 days shy of his 28th birthday when he received a nomination for “Elvis” in 2005. Three years earlier, then-24-year-old James Franco was shortlisted for “James Dean” and he is the most recent under-25 nominee, like Jerome would be.

The hardest job for Jerome is getting nominated because he definitely has the material to win. As Korey Wise, he is the only actor to play one of the Central Park Five boys as a teenager and as an adult. Then 16 in 1989, Wise was tried as an adult and served the longest time in prison, 12 years, before the real perpetrator, convicted rapist and murderer Matias Reyes, confessed in 2001. The fourth episode of Ava DuVernay‘s limited series is a showcase for Jerome as it chronicles Wise’s harrowing time behind bars, much of it spent in solitary.

Jerome, however, finds himself in a stacked race with a lot of worthy contenders but no one who really feels like a true lock or even a favorite to win. But given Criss’ and Ahmed’s wins the last two years, perhaps this category is trending younger and big-name stars may not have as easy of a time as they used to — two-time champ Al Pacino wasn’t even nominated last year for “Paterno” and Ahmed beat Robert De Niro (“The Wizard of Lies”).

Jerome is currently just out of the predicted six nominees in seventh place, but he has the support of three Experts and four Editors. His “Moonlight” co-star Mahershala Ali (“True Detective”) is in first place, followed by Sam Rockwell (“Fosse/Verdon”), Hugh Grant (“A Very English Scandal”), Benicio del Toro (“Escape at Dannemora”), Ian McShane (“Deadwood: The Movie”) and Jared Harris (“Chernobyl”). The youngest of this sextet? Forty-five-year-old Ali.

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