Sterling K. Brown's Rise To The Top
If anyone in Hollywood embodies the idea of working with intention, it’s Sterling K. Brown.
He is all about supporting the accurate, realistic, forward-thinking portrayals of Black people on screen. And at the same time, he is aware of and embraces the responsibility he carries in how modern-day, dealing-with-racism America views Black men.
Brown is about as woke as woke can be, yet he isn’t preachy or off-putting with it. He’s easy. And clearly, he’s got grit. No one makes it this far this fast without having gone through some gnarly stuff. The secret, he says, is working with a purpose, acknowledging how you got here and pushing to do more.
“I see acting as an opportunity to entertain, educate and edify,” says Brown, who, last year became the first Black man to win Golden Globe and Screen Actors Guild awards for a TV drama for his portrayal of Randall Pearson on NBC’s mega hit This Is Us. In 2017, Brown won an Emmy for outstanding lead actor in a drama series. The last Black actor to win was in 1998 when Andre Braugher took home the statue for his role in NBC’s Homicide: Life on the Street.
“There’s been opportunities I’ve been presented with that aren’t readily abundant, so I’m thankful and I recognize myself having a bit of privilege. … I also stand on the shoulders of giants,” says Brown. “I wouldn’t be where I am right now if it wasn’t for Denzel [Washington] and Sam [Jackson] and Morgan [Freeman] and [Paul] Robeson and Ossie [Davis].”
Refreshingly, Brown has always used his platform as a way to talk about social issues or to encourage people to think. And this is where Indian Meadows comes in. The production company allows him to create even more opportunities for even more people. News of the announcement was released in October 2018, and Brown has big plans for it — even if he can’t yet release all the exact details. Meanwhile, 2019 sees him in several films, including The Rhythm Section, Waves and a voice-actor turn in Angry Birds 2.
The cartoon makes sense in the repertoire given that, in terms of the social issues most important to him, the actor says this: “Brown loves the kids.” He regularly volunteers with The Youth Mentoring Connection in Los Angeles and supports the Mathews Dickey Boys & Girls Club in his native St. Louis. (His grandfather was a financial contributor there.)
Given that Brown cites Malcolm X as a civil rights figure who had a significant impact on his life, it stands to reason that his next projects will be as impactful as his turn in Black Panther and ongoing role in This Is Us.
“There’s something about the discipline of that man that I’ve always found inspiring,” says Brown, recalling the first time he read The Autobiography of Malcolm X. “To make his way out of nothing, to take a radical approach by any means necessary and ending in a place of, ‘If you are with me, I embrace you.’ He is an amazing human.”
— Adrienne Samuels Gibbs
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