The searing TV series on the plight of the Central Park Five created a memorable Emmy moment Sunday when the five exonerated men stood and were honored at the awards show.

Jharrel Jerome poses backstage with his Outstanding Lead Actor in a Limited Series or Movie award for
Jharrel Jerome poses backstage with his Outstanding Lead Actor in a Limited Series or Movie award for "When They See Us". (Reuters)

The searing TV series on the plight of the Central Park Five created a memorable Emmy moment Sunday when the five exonerated men stood and were honoured at the awards show.

The four-part Netflix series explores the true story of five black and Latino teenagers from Harlem who were coerced into confessing to a rape they didn't commit in 1989 and follows them over the course of 25 years to their eventual exoneration.

Show creator Ava DuVernay lost in the directing and writing categories but Jharrel Jerome won for best lead actor in a limited series.

"I feel like I should just be in the Bronx right now, just chilling, waiting for my mom's cooking.

But I am here in front of my inspirations," said Jerome, a New Yorker whose mother told him about this ugly chapter in city history.

He then acknowledged the Central Park Five — Yusef Salaam, Antron McCray, Kevin Richardson, Raymond Santana, and Korey Wise — who had been invited.

"This is for Raymond, Yusef, Antron, Kevin, and King Korey Wise. Thank you so much, it's an honor. It's a blessing," said Jerome.

Some of the men raised fists in the air, while others, including Wise, had tears in their eyes.

Peter Dinklage, named best supporting actor for "Game of Thrones," set a record for most wins for the same role, four, breaking a tie with Aaron Paul of "Breaking Bad."

"I count myself so fortunate to be a member of a community that is about nothing but tolerance and diversity, because in no other place I could be standing on a stage like this," said Dinklage.

Streaming hit new Emmy heights, powered by Amazon Prime winners "Fleabag," ''The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel" and a "Very English Scandal," and Netflix's "Bandersnatch (Black Mirror)," honored as best movie. But HBO again showed its strength, including with the trophies for "Chernobyl," ''Barry" and John Oliver's best variety-talk win.

Michelle Williams, honoured as best actress for her portrayal of dancer Gwen Verdon in FX's limited series "Fosse/Verdon," issued a call to arms for gender and ethnic equality.

She thanked the network and studio behind the project for "supporting me completely and paying me equally because they understood ... when you put value into a person, it empowers that person to get in touch with their own inherent value. And where do they put that value, they put it into their work."

"And so the next time a woman and, especially a woman of color, because she stands to make 52 cents on the dollar compared to her white male counterpart, tells you what she needs in order to do her job, listen to her," Williams said.

Alex Borstein and Tony Shalhoub of "The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel" won best supporting acting awards at the ceremony, which included early and varied messages of female empowerment after the hostless ceremony.

"I want to dedicate this to the strength of a woman, to (series creator) Amy Sherman-Palladino, to every woman on the 'Maisel' cast and crew," Borstein said, and to her mother and grandmother. Her grandmother survived because she was courageous enough to step out of a line that, Borstein intimated, would have led to her death at the hands of Nazi Germany.

Source: AP