Sterling K. Brown: “No Black Man In My Family Lived Past 65”
When Sterling K. Brown starting acting on TV, people would refer to him as “that guy” in that “one show,” you know “whatshisname.” But now, the award-winning actor is known for playing Christopher Darden in The People v. O. J. Simpson: American Crime Story, for which he won the Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Limited Series or Movie. Brown is also known for his role as Roland Burton on the Lifetime Network drama series Army Wives. He currently stars as Randall Pearson on the critically acclaimed NBC drama, This Is Us, for which he also won an Emmy.
Catching the acting bug in high school, the Sterling went to Stanford with a major in economics and other plans in mind for his life, only later realizing that “the hobby was actually the calling.
“I discovered that I love being on stage in high school. My first play was Godspell—I was a member of the ensemble, and there’s this part where you sing this song, [sings] ‘Prepare Ye (The Way Of The Lord),’ explains Sterling. “One night in particular, people were standing up and applauding.”
“My buddy and I got up onstage and bowed, and were like, ‘We gotta keep doing this shit.’ It was the first time I’d experienced a high outside of athletics. I was a basketball player, football player. But this high was so pure—you get bit, and you just keep chasing that.”
The role as Randall, a father who reconnected with his biological father after 36 years on the show, is something that’s personal to Sterling. In real life, his father died when he was young, which only fuels his love for his own two sons–one age five and the other under a year old.
“There’s the connection between fathers and sons—I lost my dad when I was 10, so that was an immediate connection,” says Brown. “The question I would ask is, ‘If I had a chance to reconnect with a father figure, would I take advantage of it?’ The answer is yes.”
Actually, all the men in Sterling’s family have an effect on his life.
“Everything I do, for the most part is slightly calculated to a certain extend. But beyond just vanity, I want to show Black folks that there’s another way we can be. That we can be healthy, and fit and strong for years to come,” Brown tells The Root.com. “My father passed when he was 45. I have not had a Black man in my family live by 65. I’m proud to show my abs because I work hard for it. But all the exercise in the world doesn’t make a difference if you don’t put the right stuff in your body.”