Sterling K. Brown is a performer unlike any other. From Black Panther to Frozen, This Is Us to American Crime Story, nobody commands a scene like him. No matter how small or large the role, the prolific actor makes it his own (via IMDb). Even his name conjures up images of stoic, regal emotional intensity, which is why it’s so surprising that the charismatic performer was afraid, for a long time, to fully embrace it as his own.
Brown admitted to Men’s Health that he went by Kelby, his middle name, until he was a teenager. The actor’s father died at just 45 from a diabetes-induced heart attack. As a result, Brown didn’t know any Black men who lived past 65; his grief inspired him to go by his first name. “Sterling always felt like an old man’s name because it was my old man’s name,” Brown said. These days, though, he’s proud to use it, because, “now it’s my name.”
Sterling K. Brown doesn't consider himself a trailblazer
Sterling K. Brown is a celebrated actor and multiple award winner, who made history in 2018 as the first Black man to win Best Actor in a drama at both the Golden Globes and the SAG Awards. However, Brown doesn’t consider himself a trailblazer. As he reasoned, in an interview with Esquire, “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.”
Still, the prolific actor is humbled to be considered in a similar light to those folks, admitting, “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.” Above all else, Brown is hopeful his success paves the way for others.
Acting is the ideal profession for this man of many voices
Although it goes against everything fans of This Is Us know about his onscreen character, Randall, Brown has a terrific singing voice IRL. When Variety floated the idea of doing a musical, the actor suggested, “If I had some time, and somebody would teach me some things, I would be open to the possibility.”
Brown also has a knack for doing voices. He can slip into a British accent while retelling a story about his buddy Riz Ahmed just as easily as he can fake a pretentious, snobby twang in a pretend response to fans surprised by their love of This Is Us. “I have a thousand people living inside me,” the prolific performed revealed. As Brown acknowledged, though, it’s a boon in his job. He argued, “I picked the right profession for me because every once in a while, one of them gets to come to the forefront and introduce themselves to the public. And hopefully I’ll get a chance to do that as time goes on.”
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