We Love You, Sterling K. Brown
I’ve heard more than once that parents of adopted children can’t read my blog or my book You Don’t Look Adopted because they feel both are too sad. This strikes me as funny because while I do my best to be as truthful as possible, I’m not entirely truthful because that, I feel, would be too painful for both me and the reader. Being adopted hurts.
Five or ten years ago, This is Us may not have been as wildly as successful it is for the very same reason. This is Us is sad. It has complicated characters—complicated because they are so human. That means This is Us is so much more than sad: it is funny, surprising, smart, thought-provoking. It feels real.
When Sterling K. Brown won the Emmy for his role on This is Us, I, and for all appearance, he, was tearful as soon as he started his speech. It was a big deal, him being up there, accepting the award. A black man hasn’t done that for 19 years, accepted an Emmy for best actor in a drama. That’s a long time. He said I love you so many times I lost count. There is something about his face that makes him the perfect person to embody the character of Randall. There is something hopeful and sweet and heartbroken in his smile and eyes.
There are many tragic things about being a black man in America. So there are tears for that, for the strife of the black man searching for a safe home in the streets of this country. And then there are tears for the complexity of a character who grew up black in a white home, the lonliness of the outsider. The world is so hopeful about the healing power of love and acceptance, and people often think that should be enough, that anyone can feel safe in a home where there is love even if when he looks into the face of a parent he sees nothing of himself.
A black child can not see himself reflected wholly in a white family, just as a black actor in a room full of white actors can not see himself wholly reflected. But we as a nation are trying, and This is Us is such an important step in the right direction. We can’t deal with painful situations if we turn a blind eye to them. We have to see problems in order to change them. I am so grateful for this show for having the courage to look into the tough conversations we as a country might have been avoiding. I am especially grateful to Sterling K. Brown for feeling the love.
And I am overjoyed that it’s almost time for the new season of This is Us.
And, oh, about the fact that Sterling K. Brown’s mic got cut off, well…change doesn’t happen overnight all the time. So here is the part he didn’t get to say, as he reported to Vanity Fair:
I wanted to thank our writers. A show doesn’t get seven acting nominations without some impeccable, beautiful, thoughtful writing. You guys are our life’s blood, so I want to thank you so much. To our producers and directors, in particular, John Requa, Glenn Ficarra, and the crazy cool Ken Olin. I thank you for your guidance and friendship. And I wanted to thank Dan Fogelman — he is the Hebrew hammer with which our house was built. He makes me laugh and cry in equal parts and keeps me coming back for more, and in his own little small special way. He’s not trying to make America great again, he’s trying to make it the best that it’s ever been and I love him for taking me on this journey. I wanted to thank my manager. You’ve been doing this for a long time and it feels like we’re just getting started. I can’t wait to see what’s next. And to my wife — I didn’t get to thank my wife — you make my life worth living and you gave me two of the most beautiful things that God has ever put on this planet. Your daddy loves you with the strength of a thousand suns. I’ll see you Monday after work. Thank you.
Thank you, Sterling K. Brown. We love you.
Next time bring your own mic.