NBC’s tear-jerking drama This Is Us is no longer just a TV show — it’s a cultural phenomenon. And as one of the show’s leads, Sterling K. Brown understands the significance of that, especially in today’s current sociopolitical climate.
When asked why he thinks the show resonates so much with people, Brown told InStyle, “It brings people together. Whether you’re from a red or blue state, whether you’re gay or straight, and no matter your nationality or ethnicity, everybody has the same sort of relationships to their family.”
There are many reasons Brown loves playing This Is Us’ Randall Pearson.
The 2018 Golden Globe he took home for the role is undoubtedly one of them.
It was in his acceptance speech for that historic award — he was the first Black actor to be awarded best performance by an actor in a television drama — that Brown first pointed out the importance of his character being “purposefully Black.”
And during his interview with InStyle, the actor touched on the significance of playing characters who aren’t the result of color-blind casting.
“I have benefited greatly over the course of my career from being the, uh, black guy. Often characters are written as white by default and then producers or whoever will say, ‘OK, well, which character could we go ethnic with?’” Brown explained, adding, “Then you’re plugged into a role — which is a good role, but it wasn’t necessarily written with what you bring to the table in mind.”
It is roles like Randall, says Brown, that are changing the fabric of television for the better.
“So once you find a role that’s created with intention — for me it would be Randall, and [Christopher] Darden [the character he played in the movie The People vs. O.J. Simpson: American Crime Story] too, as these parts were written for African-American men — you get a chance to bring all of who you are to these characters. Color blindness has its place, and it’s opened up multiple doors. But being recognized and appreciated for your difference, that is what we’re all striving for,” he told InStyle.
Of course, the added bonus with Randall is that he also happens to be a caring, empathetic, sensitive man of color — a trope that hasn’t often been explored on television.
The fact that his character is so emotional isn’t lost on Brown either. In discussing the ways he prioritizes his health, his This Is Us character finds a way to creep into the conversation. And spoiler alert: It has everything to do with tear ducts.
“People ask me as Randall how all the tears come. Well, I drink a ton of water, and it’s just trying to get out of whatever orifice it possibly can!” he joked.