Sterling K. Brown Hopes Emmy Win Opens Door for More Black Actors

By Sameer Rao Sep 20, 2017

Sterling K. Brown made history alongside several actors of color on Sunday night (September 17), when he won the “Lead Actor in a Drama Series” Emmy Award for portraying Randall Pearson on NBC’s "This Is Us." He reflects on the win in a new cover story for Variety, which hits newsstands today (September 20).

Brown noted in his acceptance speech Sunday that he is the first Black actor to win in his category in 19 years. The last winner was Andre Braugher, who earned it in 1998 for “Homicide: Life on the Street." Brown recounts a personally meaningful moment when he saw Braugher on a billboard for "Gideon’s Crossing" while studying in New York City: 

“There’s a Black dude on a billboard for a TV show!” says Brown. “You clock these things because you don’t see them. You have to see it first because then you can allow yourself to envision it.”

Brown told Variety that he hopes his Emmy win will open the door to more opportunities for Black artists in Hollywood. "You have to have the roles and the opportunities, but you have to have the people in that writers’ room, the creative minds behind [writing characters of color], to make it worthy of the consideration,” he says. “To paraphrase Nate Dogg, ‘It ain’t no fun if the homies can’t have none.’ I look forward to seeing other brothers step up on that stage. And hopefully myself as well.”

Brown works with three Black screenwriters—Kay OyegunBekkah Brunstetter and Aurin Squire—on "This is Us." He credits those writers and their colleagues for developing his nuanced adoptee character. "It’s such a unique story, being raised by this White family," he says about his character’s trajectory. "Seeking out his adoptive father and making that connection only to lose him. We haven’t seen that before. When you have these craftsmen writing and telling these stories, you have this perfect synthesis in order for it to happen. I hope it happens for more people of color.”

Read more from the interview at