What is happening in our world? Who is doing what? what is going on now? These are questions that will be answered. Enjoy.
Sterling K. Brown Talks This Is Us, Black Panther Success
Sterling K. Brown might just be the nicest guy in Hollywood. Within literal seconds of meeting him, he’s already complimented my handwriting with more enthusiasm than any teacher ever offered me and has said “This is great!” multiple times. It’s not difficult to see why audiences are drawn to him—his positive energy is off the charts and matched only by his humility. He’s been booking acting gigs for over a decade and a half, but he finally got the recognition he deserved when he starred on The People v. O.J. Simpson: American Crime Story, for which he earned his first Emmy award. Brown now has a career most actors could only dream of having.
It’s clear that this is a man who loves life, and why shouldn’t he? His performance as Randall Pearson on NBC’s mega-hit This Is Us is beloved by fans and critics alike, and has led him to earn a second Emmy, a Golden Globe, and a SAG award. Not since Lost has a television show caused so much emotional whiplash through time jumps; now with the introduction of flash-forwards, Brown has even more of an opportunity to grow Randall as a character.
When he wasn’t making people sob on This Is Us, he found time to co-star in Black Panther with a pivotal role that acts as a catalyst to much of the film’s plot. Black Panther, of course, has gone on to shatter records and just finished its third weekend at the top of the box office.
Oh, and he’s hosting Saturday Night Live for the first time this weekend, an honor he calls “simply amazing.” But true to form, he didn’t let his busy schedule interfere with an opportunity to help a community in need, which is why he decided to team up with Clorox and Thrive Collective to commemorate the opening of a newly renovated arts and mentoring center for at-risk youth in Harlem.
When I sat down with him in Harlem a few hours before the space’s opening, we talked about his involvement in the project, representation in Hollywood, and how he feels about being called a trailblazer.
On seeing the overwhelmingly positive response to Black Panther
It’s been amazing. To be a part of a world in which they said, “This is something that we want to do, this is a story we want to tell, and this is a story we think can be financially viable—not only in the United States, but across the globe.” And the fact that they were right. Oh my God, I can’t tell you…I don’t know if it’s a sense of relief and joy? It’s probably a little of both, to know that so often you’re told that this story about blacks can’t really open things overseas. And now, that’s being destroyed. The fact that I get a chance to be a part of it—even a small part, but a significant part—I feel like it’s something that people are going to be talking about for years to come.
Why it was important to him to be a part of Black Panther
I knew this movie was important the minute I read the script. I had been a fan of the comic book from several years ago, like 10 or 12 years ago. Reggie Hudlin had written his own updated version of The Black Panther and I remember reading it and being like, “Wow, I didn’t even know this character existed in the Marvel Universe.” And I didn’t think 10 years ago that it was a possibility that they were actually going to make it into a movie!
How the success of Black Panther will change representation in Hollywood
I think it can’t help but change the landscape. It’s always been my opinion that you get to the universal through the specific. You can’t try to whitewash things if you want people to connect to it. You have to be as specific to the integrity of an individual story as possible, and then what happens is, not only does that community get a chance to see themselves being represented, but people who aren’t a part of that community get a chance to see a character they identify with that they never thought they could identify with. They recognize that ultimately the Wakandan way of being is very similar to different countries’ way of being throughout time. Maybe we need to change the way in which we interact with the global community.
He’s trying to be more like Randall Pearson every day
Over Christmas, we were putting up our tree—my wife and I and our two boys. And a basketball game was on, so my attention was split between the game and putting up the tree. Evidently, it was split too much, according to my wife, because I wasn’t doing enough to help out. My wife comes over and puts her hand on my hand and she said to me, “I need you to do what Randall would do right now.” [Laughs] So, I turned off the basketball game and I gave my full attention to my family. Stepping into Randall Pearson can’t help but make you a better person—and if he doesn’t, then my wife reminding that I am Randall Pearson definitely will.
How he approaches Randall Pearson’s mental health on This Is Us
I have a couple of family members that have different anxiety disorders, so I’ve seen them up close. And I’ve seen how difficult it is, because when people see them they don’t see any wounds or any scars. But they’re dealing with something very serious and severe. Because I’ve seen it firsthand, it’s something that I wanted to get as right as possible. Randall’s is triggered by an overwhelming level of stress. Of course, it manifests differently for different individuals. From the outside, Randall is someone who has everything. He has the beautiful family, the great big house, the car, he’s got a successful job. But internally, he sometimes doesn’t feel whole, and he feels overwhelmed and this desire to be perfect. That desire is his Achilles heel. I feel like he’s just now reaching a place in his life where he thinks, “Well, maybe I don’t have to be perfect.” Just releasing the pressure off the valve helps him a little bit.
What those historic award show wins mean to him
It’s nuts! The fact that there are firsts with regards to awards and African-Americans transpiring in 2017, 2018 is sort of crazy. I didn’t even realize until just a few days before the Golden Globes that no African-American had ever won in that category [Best Actor in a TV Series, Drama]. And that no African-American had ever won in the SAG [Best Actor in a Drama Series] category.
“To know that people might look at me [as a trailblazer] is incredibly humbling.”
I don’t think I’ve ever been a trailblazer. I always thought, well, I stand on the shoulders of giants who’ve done things several years ago—the Paul Robesons and the Jackie Robinsons. To know that people might look at me in a similar light going into the future is incredibly humbling. Even on Instagram sometimes I see posts for Black History Month, and I’ll see pictures of myself talking about these particular historic wins and I have to remind myself this is really happening. I don’t know what I did to be deserving of this particular moment, but I’m happy to be here. Hopefully my success leads to success for other people down the road.
Why he wanted to partner with Clorox and Thrive Collective
I’ve got two boys. I want them to grow up and be considerate and thoughtful and responsible and kind and resilient human beings. Some of the research that Clorox has been doing through this “Clean Is the Beginning Campaign” is that when you live in a clean space, you become a more empathetic human being. When you take responsibility for cleaning that space yourself, your empathy levels rise even higher. Just a couple months ago this [Youth Opportunity Hub Arts Center] was sort of a rundown school room that wasn’t being used. Clorox and Thrive Collective got 250 members of the community to come together to give this place some TLC, and now we have a youth arts center for kids who may not have had those sorts of programs in their schools.
I’m an artist—and you grow through exposure. Every time you travel to a different place or have a conversation with a person from a different walk of life than yourself, or see someone’s art, your life vision expands. So, we want to give children access to making their lives as large as possible, and to make sure that their artistic interpretation of the world in which they live is something that is valued. Clorox, together with Thrive Collective, is doing that in the most meaningful way and I’m honored to be a part of the campaign.