EXCLUSIVE: Ava DuVernay Helped Michael K. Williams Process Emotional Role In ‘When They See Us’: It Was So Intense I Had To Call Her

Michael K. Williams, Ava Duvernay

EXCLUSIVE: Ava DuVernay Helped Michael K. Williams Process Emotional Role In ‘When They See Us’: It Was So Intense I Had To Call Her

Actor Michael K. Williams plays Bobby McCray, the father of Antron McCray, in Ava DuVernay‘s gut-wrenching Central Park Five mini-series, “When They See Us.” Much like Michael B. Jordan‘s experience with “Black Panther,” he explained in a recent interview that he’s had to recovery from embodying the tale of such a traumatic piece of our country’s history.

The cast of Netflix’s “When They See Us” with Oprah Winfrey and Ava DuVernay

The “Wire” alum has, also, had to help friends and peers through processing their own responses to the film. He said:

“The response has been overwhelming. And I’ll say that to say a lot of people in my personal group have been calling me – people that I would never expect – crying on the phone. And I don’t know how to respond to that. It wakes up my trauma with the story, and I’m sitting there and I’m just like, ‘Well, Mike, what do you say to your friends?’ And I say nothing. I just open my ears and I listen.”

Michael commented on his own recovery from Netflix’s “When They See Us:”

“It’s not all off yet. I can watch a trailer and get emotional. It’s gonna take a minute, ’cause this story is very personal to me.”

The New York native says that he checked in with director, Ava DuVernay, for advice on how to process the heavy story:

“…it got so intense that I called Ava, and I said, ‘Are you ok?’ ‘Cause I realize in my little five minutes of my friends calling, she dealt with that for how many years? She dealt with the five men, she dealt with their families, she dealt with the studios, she dealt with the actors. And everybody was bringing their hurt and pain to her. And I was like, ‘How do you deal with this? How do you process all of this energy?’ She goes, ‘I had my training on ’13th.” She said, ‘I went through this on ’13th,’ so now I understand how to process it.’ And she helped me navigate. She was the one who said, ‘Mike, you don’t have to have the right answers. Just listen.'”

Lastly, despite the severity of the injustice they endured, Michael K. Williams says the real men behind the mini-series are strong, loving people. He said:

“The light is so bright- they’re like a voltron when they get together. It’s so beautiful! You see strength, you see love, you see a bond that can never be broken. And none of us will really, ever, quite understand. It’s quite beautiful.”

Have you watched “When They See Us” yet? Let us know in the comments. 

Written by Miata Shanay

Authored by: Miata Shanay