American Icon: Sterling K Brown

Sterling K Brown (image via eonline) on

Sterling K. Brown doesn’t shy away from controversial racial issues.

Through his roles, the Emmy award winning actor brings to light the tough and uncomfortable problems that can occur as an African-American man living in a white world. He’s also very open to talking about these issues in interviews.

“It's always the case that the minority has to navigate two different worlds. Women have to know how to live in a man's world. Gay people have to know how to live in a straight world”, says Brown (in an interview with GQ).

Both of his most well known roles - Randall Pearson in This is Us and Christopher Darden in The People v O.J. Simpson - are African-American men, trying to remain authentic to who they are, while navigating the biases they face as a minority. Sterling gives a powerful and real voice to an underrepresented community.

The People v. O.J. Simpson: American Crime Story

In this FX TV series about the controversial case against O.J. Simpson, Brown plays perhaps the most controversial role of all - Christopher Darden. Darden was thought of as a racial traitor by a large part of the African-American community for prosecuting Simpson.

“He was told and warned by his family that this could be something that blows up in his face, and the optics of a black man trying to prosecute another black man, a black hero in the black community, someone who had actualized the American Dream for himself—it wasn't going to win him any points.”, Brown says, describing Darden’s position (in an interview with GQ).

The timing of this TV series seemed appropriate as racial tensions have come to a head in America over the last few years.

“So I do think the timing of it is—I don't think there are any accidents, let me put it that way. I don't think that this is, it's one of those things that happen for a reason, and it furthers the conversation about how people experience law enforcement. Black people in this country have had a healthy sort of mistrust of those who are supposed to protect and serve because that hasn't always been their experience.” says Brown (in a GQ interview).

This is Us

In This is Us, Brown plays a successful African-American husband and father, living in a predominantly white community. Brown says that the writers don’t shy away from the small conflicts and issues that come up constantly for their TV family.

“I am so proud of NBC and Fogelman for putting this black family in the midst of the Pearson family and not having it be coincidental. Having our race be an asset to the show, rather than something that needs to be glossed over.
” Brown explains (in a GQ interview).

Giving Back

Brown feels it’s important to be a positive example within the African-American community, and help young people work to better themselves. He is involved with several different youth charities like the Brotherhood Crusade, and the Social Justice Learning Institute.

Brown says (in an interview with GQ) “I'm always looking to see how I can be of service, because if you can't use this platform for something of benefit, then what good is it, right?”

Sterling K Brown (Image via IMDB) on