The Hollywood Reporter Drama Actor Roundtable

June 26, 2017

Sterling participated in the Hollywood Reporters Emmy Drama Actor Roundtable at the end of May and I thought you might enjoy reading excerpts from the discussion!

Six stars at the top of their game — including Billy Bob Thornton, Sterling K. Brown, John Lithgow and Jeffrey Wright — open up about appreciating early struggles (“You forget what it feels like to dream”), the indignity of typecasting (“Terrorist No. 3 — I’d rather be broke”) and the pros and cons of being one of only a few who know where your character is going.

Ewan McGregor has been a movie star for 20 years, but he’s still petrified every time he takes on a new role. “My wife will tell you — there’s a two-week period of, ‘I’m not going to be able to do it,’ ” he says. Fifty-year veteran John Lithgow is in the same boat — just two days earlier, he admits, he suffered a bout of stage terror. The fear seems to resonate with the four other stars — Sterling K. Brown, 41; Riz Ahmed, 34; Jeffrey Wright, 51; and Billy Bob Thornton, 61 — who’ve gathered with Lithgow, 71, and McGregor, 46, on an April afternoon in Hollywood for an intense discussion of the choices they’ve made, the stereotypes they’ve avoided and the occupational hazard of uncertainty. Says McGregor, “We’ve been remembering lines for years, but the nerves, in my experience, get worse and worse.”

What are the parts you get approached for that make you say, “Not this again”?

RIZ AHMED (The Night Of, HBO) When you first start seeing gay characters in mainstream cultures or black characters or Muslim characters, they can start off as the stereotypical portrayal — it’s the cab driver, the shopkeeper, the drug dealer. And then sometimes, hopefully, you move beyond that, and it’s still storylines that are tied to that character’s ethnicity or their sexuality, but they’re working against those stereotypes. I was lucky that I came into the game just when we were moving from that stage one caricature into stage two. So a lot of my early work deals with the issues around the war on terror or Islamophobia, but I’m proud to say it deals with and engages those issues in creative ways and I hope in ways that move us forward rather than doubling down on lazy stereotypes. But yeah, there was a lot of, like, Terrorist No. 3 stuff — I just made a decision I wasn’t going to do it. I thought, “I’d rather be broke.”

Sterling, an L.A. Times column recently praised This Is Us for showcasing a black actor portraying “the simmering rage of the successful black man in white America.” What does that mean to you?

STERLING K. BROWN (This Is Us, NBC) What I love so much about the show and about the character of Randall is that he is black on purpose. So many times, for the sake of diversity on network TV, there’s going to be a black guy or a Latino guy, et cetera, and they just happen to be that. But the fact that he is black and we actually use that to tell the story of a black man being raised by this white family and still has the experience of being black in America … The feedback I get from people is, “We don’t get a chance to see this that often: a successful black man married with two children who is happy and succeeding but still has to deal with the fact that life is not the same, the paths that we walk are going to be different.” A white woman who had adopted two black sons was asking me the other day, “What types of things do I need to tell my sons?” And I said, “Well, when you’re horsing around and somebody gets singled out for being in trouble, when you’re a little black boy, it’s not just boys being boys, there’s an added level of scrutiny.”

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TVLine Podcast: Dream Emmy Nominee Sterling K. Brown Reflects on This Is Us Phenomenon, Teases Funnier Season 2

June 19, 2017

TV Line shared their podcast where they interviewed Sterling to discuss This Is Us, his fans, and the Emmys.

This Is Us MVP Sterling K. Brown would be the first to tell you that the last thing he ever expected was to be famous — never mind so famous that he’d end up being interviewed for The TVLine Podcast as one of our Dream Emmy nominees. “I always thought that I would just be working in obscurity in perpetuity,” he admits to Executive Editor Kimberly Roots. Like, “‘You’re that guy from that guest spot!’… or ‘I loved you on Supernatural!’”

Luckily, the Emmy winner (for American Crime Story: The People v. O.J. Simpson) sounds like he’s adjusted beautifully to his now-extremely-high profile. Take, for instance, his sweet reaction to being approached by fans of his hit NBC drama or his gratitude for the public service that the show provides by allowing a nation divided to, at least for an hour each week, “say, ‘It’s not us vs. them, this is us — we’re all in this together.’”

Listen to the interview here:

Actors on Actors: Sterling K. Brown and Pamela Adlon

June 05, 2017

Sterling is featured as part of Variety’s new season of Actors on Actors. Watch his interview with Better Thing’s actress Pamela Adlon here:

Sterling K. Brown (“This Is Us,” “The People v. O.J. Simpson: American Crime Story”) brought Pamela Adlon (“Better Things”) to tears during their “Actors on Actors” conversation, in which they also discussed their best and worst auditions.

Sterling K. Brown of “This Is Us” Predicts LeBron James Will Be Finals MVP

May 16, 2017

Hopefully you saw Sterling K. Brown in his Emmy-winning role as prosecutor Christopher Darden in The People v. O.J. Simpson: American Crime Story. Or you’ve watched him steal the show as identity-seeking perfectionist Randall Pearson on NBC’s dramedy This Is Us. This week, however, Complex caught him stopping by the NBA Store in Manhattan to get a custom-made jersey ahead of upfronts for the show, which returns in the fall for Season 2.

Turns out, Brown is a huge basketball fan, and like many of us, rides for LeBron in particular—hence the No. 23 jersey he chose to emblazon with his initials. The very busy, always brilliant Brown took a few minutes to talk playoffs, NBA nostalgia and more.

What do you think? Is it a foregone conclusion that the Finals will be the Cavs and the Warriors?
I mean, the Spurs, if they would have at least gotten a win in Game 1 they would have had a chance, but now with the injury…It’s gonna be Cleveland and Golden State, for sure.

Who gets your vote for MVP?
Regular season? Russell Westbrook; he’s truly deserving. But for the Finals it’s gonna be my man LeBron James, as it should be.

What was the first basketball game you ever went to?
Well, I grew up in St. Louis without a team. I remember going to, I think it was an exhibition game with the Pistons when I was a kid. You know, when you see them on TV with each other, they don’t look that tall. They’re all the same height. But in person…whoa. Those are really tall guys. They’re giants. I can say I stood among giants that day.

And finally, do you know how Jack died?
Oh yeah. Yes, I do.

(Source)

Sterling K. Brown and Brian Tyree Henry Interview Themselves

March 21, 2017

Vanity Fair invited Sterling & Brian to interview themselves. Here is the fun clip of the interview!

Former Bay Area resident Sterling K. Brown feels ‘blessed beyond words’

March 10, 2017

Sterling spoke with the Mercury News about what his success means to him and how he found his calling of acting.

Sterling K. Brown spent most of his 15-year professional acting career “just showing up, saying lines and going home.”

Then, suddenly, he became an “overnight success.”

Last September, Brown earned an Emmy award for his remarkable portrayal of prosecutor Christopher Darden in “The People v. O.J. Simpson.” Just a couple days later, he made his debut in “This Is Us,” NBC’s wildly popular family drama.

As “This Is Us” prepares to complete its freshman run on NBC next week, the Stanford grad is still pinching himself.

“Man, I have been blessed beyond words,” he says. “This last year or so has opened up doors that I hadn’t been able to walk through before. I never saw this as part of my future. But now that it’s happening, I feel so incredibly fortunate.”

This newfound star power wouldn’t have ever materialized if Brown hadn’t made a dramatic existential detour during his days at Stanford. A native of St. Louis, he arrived in the Bay Area as an economics major, fully intent on becoming a big-time businessman.

“In the application essay I wrote to get into Stanford, I talked about how I was going to own one outlet of every popular fast-food chain, so that I’d be constantly be in competition with myself,” he recalls, smiling. “I did some acting in high school, but I didn’t think it would be prudent to pursue it as a career possibility.”

However, shortly after Brown settled in at Stanford, drama professor Harry Elam Jr. (now a vice provost at the university) came to the Ujamaa dorm looking for black students to appear in a production of August Wilson’s “Joe Turner’s Come and Gone.” Brown landed the role of Herald Loomis, and when the play finished its run, Elam had some encouraging words for the young man.

“He told me, ‘I know you don’t plan on majoring in (theater), but you might just want to hang around the drama department and have some fun with it, because you’ve got some talent.’ ”

So that’s what Brown did. He hung around and occasionally took to the stage — until something finally clicked.

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This Is Us star Sterling K. Brown on Randall’s workplace shocker, Rebecca reconciliation

March 09, 2017

This week’s episode was so beautifully done and had some significant moment’s for Sterling’s character Randall. Entertainment Weekly spoke with Sterling on the memorial, the workplace decision, and Randall’s reconciliation with his mother.

Randall, wringer. Wringer, Randall.

These two have certainly gotten to know each other over the last few episodes of This Is Us, though it appears that Randall is coming out the other side intact. The family man extraordinaire, played by Sterling K. Brown, saw things come crashing down in “Jack Pearson’s Son” as the stresses of whatever he does at his job (wind-trading?), caring for a terminally ill father, and trying to keep up with his commitments as a husband and father left him quivering on his office floor, where he’d find unlikely comfort from his play-skipping brother, Kevin (Justin Hartley). “Memphis” opened several days after Randall was hospitalized and treated for his anxiety, and wife Beth (Susan Kelechi Watson) reluctantly allowed him to hop in a car with William (Ron Cephas Jones), so a father with extremely limited time left on this planet could show his son where he grew up. Their memory-stuffed tour ended in the hospital, where William died, his head cradled in Randall’s hands.

And then, in Tuesday’s installment of the NBC dramedy, titled “What Now?” — which also saw an inebriated Jack (Milo Ventimiglia) hop into a car to fix his marriage and Kate (Chrissy Metz) reveal that she’s the reason that Jack is dead — Randall was back home, grieving the loss of a father, cruelly for the second time in his life. At the end of the memorial service — to which “The Team” at work sent a perfunctory if not downright lethal basket of pears — Randall and the guilt-soaked Rebecca (Mandy Moore) had a loaded, yet healing conversation, one in which Randall issued true forgiveness, or something close to it, to his mother for hiding William’s identity from him for three and a half decades. The emotional Olympics didn’t end there, though: Learning of all the people that William touched — from the Vicodin-addicted athlete with whom he pretended to enjoy football to the mailman that he chatted up on his morning walks — Randall finally realized the way to honor his fallen father’s legacy and to roll down the windows of his life: He dropped by the office after Kevin’s Opening Night, Take 2 (which went so well, by the way, now Ron Howard wants him to act in his new movie), explained to his boss how disappointing the firm proved to be in his time of need, and then just plain quit his job. (Not quite as viral as Kevin’s adios, but an impressive statement nonetheless.) This, whatever this was, would be the new start to a life that his father would want him to live. “No hard feelings,” Randall told Tyler (John Pollono). “I walk out of here in triumph.”

On that high note, let’s speak to the man who came, who saw, and who conquered these last few episodes: Sterling K. Brown.

ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY: Were you feeling like you yourself went through some sort of massive emotional gauntlet? That’s quite a one-two-three punch of episodes.

STERLING K. BROWN: It really is. I would say “Yes.” I remember going from shooting Randall’s breakdown, where Kevin finds him in the corner of his office on one day, and then the next day, if I’m not mistaken, I had to shoot the goodbye scene between Randall and William. And it was just — I don’t know who schedules this — but it was so painful, and so taxing. And then ultimately it turned out to be a good thing for Ron and I because we were like, “All right. Well, at least we got that over with. Now we can just enjoy each other’s company,” because that’s what we’re doing for the majority of the rest of the episode.

And then [in this episode] I am so proud of my brother, recognizing that he came to me on his important day and made a tremendous sacrifice to be present, and that he was able to get the play back up and that we were able to go and witness him do what it is that he loves. It was a combination of the mailman telling me about his experiences with William — seeing how he’s affected our family at large — and there was a scene that got cut where every day William takes a nap, so the girls had us all lay blankets out in the living room and take a nap. And Kevin has this wonderful scene where he’s talking about, “Well, William would help me with my lines,” and talked about how much he enjoyed Brando from The Godfather, and I said, “When did William help you with your lines?” He said, “You know, sometimes we would both be up at night, and he couldn’t sleep and I’d just go and run lines with him, or I’d just wake him up because I couldn’t sleep, just to get his advice on something.”

It’s just another example of the many ways in which this man was present for people. I think Randall came to recognize through the course of the day, and then watching his brother’s play, that there was more to life, and that certainly he had been rushing through things to get to the end result of something, rather than purely enjoying the process and the journey of being. And it made sense then. It was a wonderful release because you would think you go in to quit a job, and it’s going to be something that’s fraught with tension and anxiety, but this was one of the most anxiety-free moments that I think Randall has had, because… it just didn’t make sense anymore.

Randall has weathered so much in these last few episodes. He suffered the breakdown, was hospitalized, went to Memphis, suffered the loss of his father and quit his job. Is part of you nervous for him? Is too much happening?

I feel like in [episodes] 15 and 16, I was very nervous for him. People would tweet and they’d be like, “I’m worried about Randall,” and I’d be like, ‘Girl, I’m worried about Randall, too!’ (Laughs) In 17, I feel like he is getting to a place of awareness to recognize that he actually has to slow down, and I feel most at ease with him right now moving into the end of the season, because he’s giving himself the time necessary to reflect on what’s transpired, rather than trying to barrel forward and just try to make everything normal. He recognizes that what’s transpired is not normal, and he needs a little bit of time to absorb what the new normal is going to be. So, I’m in a good place with where Randall is left off at the end of the season.

To read the entire interview go here.

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