The story of O.J. (not the Jay Z song) was something we talked about at the radio station where I worked back in 1995. I remember being in the newsroom at Sheridan Broadcasting Networks watching it take place. The teeth sucking, moans which eventually turned into roars from my co-workers when the verdict was announced, was like being in a football stadium.
I remember seeing the real Christopher Darden and thought “this dude is angry”. Darden seemed pissed all the time. I don’t recall ever seeing him smile. Then again, the world was watching this guy crash and burn at every chance he got, round for round.
Fast forward to February 2016, that same world, and some additional generations got to relive that entire White Broncho ride all over again! And thanks to Sterling K. Brown, I figured out why Christopher Darden was so upset.
For one, he was a black man, who was a black attorney, second chair to a white woman who nobody respected, going up against a high profile legal team who was defending a high profile client. It was like watching the only black kid in a scary movie. He wasn’t going to make it past the first 20 minutes.
Sterling K. Brown embraced Darden and the people knew who he was; Sterling that is. The people loved him so much he won a Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Limited Series or a Movie! A well-deserved accomplishment in my opinion.
And if that wasn’t enough, he picked up his next role that would continue to set records for black actors striving to be in his shoes one day.
This Is Us premiered on NBC in September 2016 and from Sterling’s opening line, I was magically connected to Randall Pearson, an adopted black child surviving the challenges of growing up with a white family to later finding his true identity in which he discovers through his father, William.
I will never forget Sterling’s speech when he won the Golden Globe for Best Performance by an Actor in a Television Series – Drama (another first). He said to This Is Us creator, 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’ve been seen for who I am and being appreciated for who I am. And it makes it that much more difficult to dismiss me, or dismiss anybody who looks like me.” (Esquire.com)
Sterling is an amazing actor! He dives into his characters, dragging us on the adventures with him. It’s not calculated at all. His portrayal of Randall is seamless and convincing. I love it when an actor can disappear into his characters. Brown does that in this role (or as he would say “I does the damn thang!“)
Recently, he won the SAG Award for Best Actor In A Drama Series, which is another record breaker for this category; being that Brown is the FIRST black man to win in this category! Let that sink in for a moment.
Get ready for another Sterling take over as he transforms into N’Jobu in the Marvel Studio Movie, Black Panther (in theaters February 16th).
I’m excited for Sterling (I‘m calling him by his first name because he’s like that cool kid you went to school with but you didn’t hang out. You just knew one another and gave a head nod in passing). It’s like we’re all living his dream come true.
My message for Sterling K. Brown, if I ever got a moment to shoot the breeze with him, would be to tell him to never change. Never let these moments end and don’t let them change your expectations of who is supposed to be. Thank you for inviting us to the party, my brotha! As the verse in “Groove Me” by Guy would go, “the party’s not over!”