#FreeRayshawn tells a story that seems all too familiar. Set in the backdrop of New Orleans, the short form series follows Rayshawn (Stephan James), who is wrongfully set up by the police department.
"All of us kind of had this obligation to tell the story in the right way," actress Jasmine Cephas Jones said.
The ex-marine barricades himself with his wife (Jones) and five-year-old son as they try to negotiate with the police and gain support through social media. While Rayshawn fights to prove his innocence, civilians flood the streets in protest, holding signs that say "Black Lives Matter" and "stop police brutality."
"[There were] a lot of tough scenes, a lot of tough days," James said.
Amid his standoff with the police force, Rayshawn bonds with a sympathetic police officer, Lt. Steven Poincy, played by "Black-ish" actor Laurence Fishburne, while negotiating for his freedom.
"Like any police officer, you know, he has some authority. And yet as an African American he has a connection to this young man, who is in fear for his life and the life of his family," Fishburne said.
James, Jones and Fishburne are all up for Emmys this year for their roles in #FreeRayshawn. Jones said that the main focus while filming was to tell the story in the most truthful way possible, so they could get the message across to viewers.
"These are real stories. It happens to people, Black people specifically, all the time," Jones said.
While every scene was emotionally taxing, as the content hits so close to home for the actors, James said that the very last scene was the hardest to film.
"It's heartwrenching to know how this story eventually ends," James said.
"Hopefully something clicks and they start the conversation," Jones said of her hopes for viewers. "It's a story that is constantly happening all the time and again it's not far away from us, so we didn't have to dig deep to understand that."
#FreeRayshawn is now streaming on Quibi.
Tune in to the 72nd Primetime Emmy Awards airing Sunday, Sept. 20 at 8 p.m. ET | 7 p.m. CT | 5 p.m. PT on ABC.