Sterling K. Brown's performance as Randall Pearson on This Is Us has been widely praised for both the nuanced way the character is written, and the emotional acuity with which Brown brings that to life. In particular, Brown's character — raised in a white household and now raising his own family in a largely white suburb — captures something rarely seen on TV: "the simmering rage of a successful black man in white America," as former Los Angeles Times columnist Marc Bernardin put it in January; "the nagging ache from shouldering the tonnage of the black experience."
Perhaps unsurprisingly, Brown himself connects to that statement on a deep level, as he reveals in a new Hollywood Reporter roundtable interview with TV's finest drama actors. Brown said, in response to the LA Times quote, "What I love so much about the show and about the character of Randall is that he is black on purpose. So many times, for the sake of diversity on network TV, there's going to be a black guy or a Latino guy, et cetera, and they just happen to be that." The 41-year-old continued, "But the fact that he is black and we actually use that to tell the story of a black man being raised by this white family and still has the experience of being black in America … The feedback I get from people is, 'We don't get a chance to see this that often: a successful black man married with two children who is happy and succeeding but still has to deal with the fact that life is not the same, the paths that we walk are going to be different.'"
And it's that kind of powerful viewing experience that illustrates why — even if you're not one for tearjerking plot twists — This Is Us is must-see TV.
This Is Us season 2 premieres Tuesday, September 26 at 9 pm. on NBC.
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