In Historic Golden Globes Win, Sterling K. Brown Praises a Role That Lets Him Be “Seen for Who I Am”
Last night, Sterling K. Brown made Golden Globes history as the first black man to win Best Performance by an Actor in a Television Series, Drama. Brown was honored for his role as Randall Pearson on NBC’s This Is Us. He was the only man of color nominated in the category this year.
In addition to thanking his wife, family, and coworkers, Brown specifically thanked This Is Us creator Dan Fogelman for creating the character of Randall. “Throughout the majority of my career I have benefited from colorblind casting,” Brown said, “which means, ‘Hey, let’s throw a brother in this role.’ It’s always really cool. But, Dan Fogelman, you wrote a role for a black man, that could only be played by a black man. And so what I appreciate so much about this thing is that I am being seen for who I am and being appreciated for what I am. And it makes it that much more difficult to dismiss me, or dismiss anybody who looks like me. So thank you.”
Backstage, Brown elaborated on how he brought his own experiences to his role. In This Is Us, Randall is adopted, and he grows up as the only black child in his family with two white siblings.
“Trying to find his way in the world, he recognizes that things are going to be different for him than they are for his brother or his sister. Growing up, my mom always told me, ‘You have to work twice as hard to get just as far. The way in which the world is going to react and respond to you is not going to be the same as it is for some of your white counterparts. So when you see little boys playing around and horsing around, and maybe getting into trouble, you don’t have the same latitude necessarily to get into the same kind of trouble with the same repercussions. The repercussions for you may be different. So that experience informs a lot of how I sort of imbue Randall. Walking this line of perfection, not only because he recognizes that it could be dangerous in the world for him, but because he needs and wants the love of his family. And so he’s now in a position where he’s trying to release that pressure that he puts on himself to be perfect.”
What I loved most about Brown’s speech was how it demonstrates the strength that diversity brings to storytelling. While good drama often covers universal experiences, such as love and loss, it also can and should cover more specific experiences—like those that are specific to growing up as a black man in the United States. Roles and stories which center these grounded, specific stories not only make for powerful drama, but they also help to create positive change.
(Featured image: screengrab)
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