Emmy Nominee Sterling K. Brown on Why "Theater Is Home"

Sterling K. Brown - July 27th, 2016
Photo: Maarten de Boer/Getty

Sterling K. Brown has had a major year in the world of TV. This past spring, the actor starred as prosecutor Chris Darden in The People v. O.J. Simpson: American Crime Story—a role that earned Brown an Emmys nod for Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Limited Series (the awards take place this Sunday, Sept. 18). The FX show is also up for Outstanding Limited Series, and it looks like Brown's next project is poised to be just as big of a hit.

He'll be back on the small screen just days after the Emmys, starring as Randall—one of multiple characters who are connected by a shared birthday—in NBC’s much-anticipated dramedy, This Is Us. Brown recently stopped by InStyle’s New York City offices to chat all about the upcoming series, and he revealed that while he loves working in both film and television, it’s the live stage that truly has his heart. “Theater is home,” Brown said. “It’s where I started, and it feels like the place where I’ll always return to. There’s nothing like the give and take and the call and response of live theater. You know exactly where you stand at each moment of the performance, because the audience will let you know if something was good—or maybe not so much.”

While Brown’s roots may forever be in theater, he still has a great appreciation for working in other mediums. “One thing that I like about TV and film—and I try to bring this from theater—is that I like a good take,” he said, explaining that “some people are OK with filming scenes in pieces, but I like to be able to play all the way through, sans interruption, whenever I don’t have to cut.”

Of course, that’s something often easier to do without a live audience—although the end goal is the same, no matter what. “I think that there’s a different way of expressing truth cinematically and theatrically,” Brown said. “In theater, you have to speak to the back of the room, but when you have a camera right in your face and a microphone on your lapel, you’re much freer to express yourself in a multitude of varieties.” Either way, “you’re just trying to get to what’s real and authentic in that particular moment,” Brown said. “You’re always just trying to get to the truth—and that’s as good as it gets.”

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