Named the most Outstanding Lead Actor in a Drama Series for his part as the ever so anxious Randall Pearson on NBC series This Is Us, Brown is the first Black actor to claim the award in nearly two decades. Still, the Emmy producers put little-to-no respeck on his name and cut his acceptance speech short. Brown gives us his (very simple) take on that moment, dishes about season 2 of This Is Us, and more in a “morning-after” interview with Variety. Here are a few highlights.
On his Emmys acceptance speech:
“I knew it was a little long,” he confesses.
On his Dad, who died when he was just 10 years old:
“My dad was a reactive kind of guy, similar to me; we let our emotions flow relatively easily,” he says. “So the fact that I had him as an example, I never was caught up with this idea that I have to be a strong, silent type. If you feel something, just feel it.”
The more he talks about his father, the more his eyes well up, and tears start to fall. “The fact that I’m an actor, I know he loves it,” he says, recalling how they’d watch TV together — shows like “Hill Street Blues” and “Barney Miller.” “And now to be a father and to have two boys, I know that makes him happy too.”
On how stories like This Is Us impact society:
“I’m not trying to pat Hollywood on the back too much, but the power of a story well told moves the needle,” he says. “It changes the way in which we interact and see society. I think Randall Pearson coming into people’s houses may offer the opportunity to say, ‘That guy is more like me than I would have thought.’ The next time they come across another African-American male they may not cross the street. They may not pretend like they don’t see him. They may actually look him in the eye and say hello.”
On This Is Us season 2:
The pressure couldn’t be higher going into season two — delivering on the promise of last fall’s success story. Fogelman recently held a viewing party at his house for the cast, writers and producers, and all Brown will reveal is: “We were happy with what we saw. The relationships are there; the beautiful struggle of humanity is there. People just trying to make the best out of a crazy life is there. So folks who are fans, I don’t think we’re going to lose anybody.”
On it taking so long for another Black man to win Outstanding Lead Actor in a Drama Series:
Brown calls the 19-year diversity gap between his win and Braugher’s “absolutely insane,” and hopes his recognition opens the door for more black actors. “You have to have the roles and the opportunities, but you have to have the people in that writers’ room, the creative minds behind it, 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.”
Read Brown’s entire Variety interview here and watch his epic Emmy moment below. Season 2 of This Is Us premieres September 26 on NBC at 9 p.m. EST. Tune in.