The Untold Truth Of Sterling K. Brown

Sterling K. Brown is well known to television viewers for his two-time Emmy-winning role as Randall Pearson on tear-jerking NBC hit "This Is Us." Other notable roles for the award-winning actor include portraying prosecutor Christoper Darden in "The People v. O.J. Simpson: American Crime Story" (for which he earned the first of his three Emmys), while other nominated roles have included the TV comedies "Brooklyn Nine-Nine," and "The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel." In addition, IMDb reminds that Brown has also appeared in a variety of other television series, such as "Army Wives," "Third Watch," "Supernatural," and "Person of Interest."

While Brown's acclaimed body of work on the small screen is indeed impressive, he's also distinguished himself in film, with highlights including Marvel Studios blockbuster "Black Panther," starring opposite Tina Fey in the comedy "Whiskey Tango Foxtrot," battling filmdom's most lethal extraterrestrial hunter in "The Predator," and playing a futuristic bank robber in the dystopian action-thriller "Hotel Artemis."

Brown has become such a ubiquitous screen presence in recent years, portraying an eclectic and wide-ranging array of characters, that it's easy for fans to assume they know more about him than they actually do. For a deep dive into the life and career of this talented actor, keep on reading to discover the untold truth of Sterling K. Brown.

The 10 things Sterling K. Brown can't live without

In early 2021, Sterling K. Brown appeared in GQ's video series in which various celebrities are asked to detail the 10 things they can't live without. For Brown, the first item of his "essentials" was a pair of Carrera sunglasses, which he explained were vital in order to "protect my investment" after undergoing Lasik surgery to correct his vision. He continued by showing off his IWC Timezoner watch, Bose sleepbuds, Miir water bottle, a David Yurman "om" necklace, and Neutrogena Norwegian formula lip moisturizer. 

He also listed his iPad, on which he reads scripts, and Ricola lozenges to keep his distinctive voice "on and full and easy" to ensure his "dulcet tones are present" whenever he steps onstage or in front of a camera. For his final two items, Brown chose a bottle of Listerine — what he called "a professional courtesy" to his fellow actors — and Biologique Recherche skincare products, pointing out that "you have to have some sort of a skincare regimen" as one grows older. 

As for something he seems to be totally fine living without? "As much as I wanted to enjoy escargot, it just wasn't my thing," he told Food & Wine in 2017. "I know some people get down with the snail, but it's not for me." Brown will happily pass on the gastropods. 

Why Sterling K. Brown didn't meet Christopher Darden

Sterling K. Brown received universal acclaim for his portrayal of Christopher Darden, one of the prosecutors in the O.J. Simpson murder trial, for the FX series "The People v. O.J. Simpson: American Crime Story." While researching the role, Brown attempted to contact Darden in hopes of picking his brain. "I reached out to him on a couple of occasions and he did not respond," said Brown of Darden in an interview with Backstage, "which is fine. And I do believe after having walked in his shoes, kind of, I can see why he wouldn't be interested in revisiting this particular period of his life."

Brown, in fact, admitted that his own personal views about Darden were reshaped radically by taking on the role. At the time of the trial, Brown recalled, he also felt disappointed that Darden was "trying to prosecute another African American man." Two decades later, Brown admitted, he'd come to realize "just how judgmental I was of [Darden] as a young man without nearly enough information to be that judgmental of anyone."

When ET asked Darden about why he didn't take Brown's call, he said, "It was 3 o'clock in the morning." The attorney went on to share that the show highlights "a hugely negative life experience" and he wasn't exactly raring "to go back there." That said, he was "very happy" about Brown's win.

The one role that made Sterling K. Brown prouder than any other

Joining the ranks of the Marvel Cinematic Universe typically gives actors bragging rights about being in a box-office blockbuster while becoming part of a pop-culture phenomenon that practically guarantees relevancy. And while both of those were true for Sterling K. Brown when he appeared in Marvel's "Black Panther," there was a far bigger reason behind his decision to join Marvel's first film focusing on a Black superhero. 

"I don't know if there's ever been a moment as an actor in which I've been more proud to be a part of a project; to be Black and to own my Blackness," Brown said of "Black Panther" in an interview with PopSugar. And as he recounted to Variety, he jumped at the opportunity to be involved when he found out it was happening. "I was like, 'Say what? ... Yo, you've got to let me know who I've got to talk to; I want to be in Wakanda!'" he said.

Speaking with Esquire, he said the studio not only being into making the flick but believing it would be a "financially viable" project was huge. "The fact that I get a chance to be a part of it — even a small part, but a significant part — I feel like it's something that people are going to be talking about for years to come," he said. Needless to say, he's part of a super legacy.

Sterling K. Brown's love story began in college

Sterling K. Brown and wife Ryan Michelle Bathe have been together since they were teenagers. As Bathe revealed to ET, the two actors first met when they were college freshmen living in the same dorm while attending Stanford. What sealed the deal for Bathe was seeing her future husband auditioning for a school production of "Joe Turner's Come and Gone." As Bathe recalled, "At 18 years old, he got on the stage, and wasn't even off book, and was Joe Turner. He was 18!"

In fact, it was when both landed roles in that very play that came to know each other even better, leading their friendship to blossom into something more. "We were homies before everything else, and then it grew," said Brown, pointing out that she was dating someone else at the time. "So we were just buddies."

In addition to sharing their lives — and two children — the couple has also shared the screen, when Bathe and Brown appeared together in Lifetime drama "Army Wives." Bathe also showed up in "This Is Us," but wasn't in any scenes with her husband; her character, Yvette, was the mother of one of young Randall's friends in flashback scenes when Brown's character was a child, played by actor Lonnie Chavis.

He's not afraid to use his platform as a celebrity to promote activism

While some celebrities keep their political opinions to themselves to avoid potentially alienating fans, Sterling K. Brown believes that speaking out about important issues is both a privilege and a responsibility of the platform he's attained. "I understand that people, for better or for worse, pay attention to people who come into their homes on a weekly basis. Because of ['This Is Us'], I get to come into people's homes 18 times a year and we become intimate with each other," Brown explained in an interview with The Grio

It's for this reason, he continued, that bringing issues such as "systemic racism and police brutality" in front of his audience — including those who may not necessarily be receptive to his message — is something that he considers to be "an honor and a responsibility that you have to take up." Noting that many public figures have "tried to remain as neutral as possible" for the sake of their careers, the stars who haven't fallen in line are to be celebrated. "Then you have people like Muhammad Ali or Bill Russell who were willing to take a stand and used their platforms no matter how popular or unpopular it was to stand up for what is right," Brown declared. "When you look back on history and ask who was on the right side of history, you recognize that this is not a choice that you can leave for someone else."

The emotional reason Sterling K. Brown changed his name

One interesting fact that even longtime fans may not realize is that Sterling K. Brown hasn't always gone by that name. As he explained in an interview with "Access Hollywood Live" (via People), he took the name as a tribute to his father, Sterling Brown Jr., who died when he was a child. "I lost my dad relatively early in life, but he gave me 10 of the best years that a kid could ever have," said Brown, who went by his middle name, Kelby, when he was a youngster.

However, he related a story that was oft-told by his mother, about how young Kelby came home from kindergarten one day and declared his intention to be known as Sterling when he turned 16, but would remain Kelby until then. While Brown admitted didn't remember actually saying that, he did wind up changing his name from Kelby to Sterling as a teenager.

In fact, that story formed the basis of his acceptance speech when he dedicated his 2016 Emmy win for "The People v. O.J. Simpson: American Crime Story" to his dad. "Sterling Brown Jr., I changed what people called me at age 16 so I could hear your name every day of my life," said Brown in his speech. "I love you, daddy."

Sterling K. Brown's many connections to Andre Braugher

Throughout his career, Sterling K. Brown has found his professional life intersecting with that of fellow Black actor Andre Braugher on several occasions. A joint interview with The New York TimesBraugher, in recognition of both men receiving Emmy nominations in 2020, described the many parallels between their respective careers, starting with both actors being graduates of Stanford.

Then there's the fact that one of Brown's very first screen credits was a 2003 appearance on the TV series "Hack" — in which Braugher starred. They reunited again more than a decade later when Brown appeared on Braugher's comedy "Brooklyn Nine-Nine," a guest spot that earned Brown an Emmy nomination. "Andre, you have been such a part of my life without knowing it for such a long time," Brown said of Braugher, whom he invited to participate in the Times interview. In the same chat, Braugher praised Brown for being "dedicated to your craft and searching for a deeper emotional level with your characters."

When ET asked about working with Braugher on "Brooklyn Nine-Nine," Brown said, "We don't have mentors like that that frequently. When you find one, you just try to hold onto them and not wear them out."

Sterling K. Brown has wanted to be a father since his teens

Sterling K. Brown and wife Ryan Michelle Bathe are parents to two sons, Andrew and Amaré. Fatherhood, he told Life of Dad, was something he knew he wanted to experience "since I was about 18 or 19 years old." Recognizing he "wasn't ready to be a dad," he nonetheless used to fantasize about being a college student with a baby. "I would find a way to make it work," he said, recalling his friends suggested he "try getting a dog first."

Once he ultimately did become a father, he told Parenthood, the experience enriched his performances as an actor. "Everything's just deeper," he said. "They also have a tremendous sense of play that is awesome to be in the presence of. What they do naturally is what I attempt to recreate in front of the camera."

While Brown's boys are aware that their father is a famous actor, they aren't particularly impressed by that fact. That, he revealed during an appearance on "Late Night with Seth Meyers," became evident when he asked the family for feedback following a screening of "Frozen 2," in which Brown played Mattias. "And my 8-year-old was like, 'Yeah, you were fine,'" he recalled. Gotta love a classic kid response.

100 years of Sterling K. Brown

The death of Sterling K. Brown's father when he was still a child proved to be a defining moment in the actor's life. Losing his father at such a young age, he explained in an interview with Men's Health, is also why he set a major goal for his own lifespan. "I think when Pops passed, I had sort of a recognition of the fact that 45 was young," Brown shared, revealing he was inspired to read the book "Healthy at 100," which documents the habits and lifestyle choices of those who've made it to the ripe old age of — you guessed it — 100.

Given that, as the CDC reported in 2021, the life expectancy for Black men is around 70, he's recognized that reaching that goal will require adhering to a punishing workout regimen, maintaining a healthy diet emphasizing "greens and grains," and daily meditation. "I just don't want to give in to the statistical analysis that says that is my fate," he explained to Men's Health. "So I try to do things as proactively as possible to ensure that I'm around to see my children's children and be of value to them when they come into the world."

After he turned 45 in 2021, he told Yahoo! Life he's "aiming for 100-plus" and has a ways to go. "The groove will happen once I get to the crescendo, but I don't think I've even crescendoed yet. I hope I'm speaking that into existence."

Sterling K. Brown has mixed feelings about a This Is Us spinoff

In May 2021, NBC announced that "This Is Us" would be bowing out after its sixth season, bringing the saga of the Pearson family to a close in 2022. For Sterling K. Brown, the ending of the series brought about mixed emotions. On the one hand, he was finding it difficult to say goodbye to Randall Pearson, a character that brought him two Emmy Awards, a history-making Golden Globe win, and bona fide stardom; on the other, the success of the show had also catapulted him into a next-level situation that he was eager to take advantage of.

During an interview with Us Weekly, Brown was asked if he'd be interested in reprising Randall in a potential "This Is Us" spinoff. "I love the show. I've had the greatest experience, and if ['This Is Us' creator] Dan Fogelman is part of the show, I would absolutely have to consider it," he responded.

However, he also detailed his misgivings. "But in wrapping my head around it, I also have to say I've wrapped my head around what the opportunities will be post-'This Is Us,' so I'm actually looking forward to exploring what else is out there," he said. As much as this series and this role have meant to him (and his mantle), he is more than ready to take on a new creative challenge. "I also look forward to all the other characters living inside of me having an opportunity to find their way into the world," he said. 

How Sterling K. Brown became mentor to a Bridgerton heartthrob

In late 2020, a new series produced by "Grey's Anatomy"/"Scandal" creator Shonda Rhimes debuted on Netflix, with "Bridgerton" becoming an immediate sensation. At the forefront of the series' first season was British actor Regé-Jean Page, who set millions of hearts racing with his sultry portrayal of the rakish Duke of Hastings. While the show made Page an instant star — even bringing him to the stage of "Saturday Night Live" for his hosting debut — he'd been receiving career advice from mentor Sterling K. Brown for years before that.

Back in 2016, during annual winter-spring Hollywood ritual known as awards season, Page was attending an Emmy-related party when he spotted Brown, who was then considered a frontrunner thanks to his blistering performance in "The People v. O.J. Simpson: American Crime Story." As Page shared with Variety, he isn't too proud to say he became starstruck. "My brain just shut off," he recalled, admitting he was impressed by Brown's "wonderful swagger." After an awkward introduction, Page noted, "Sterling just smiled patiently... then talked me through how not to be overwhelmed by this room. He reassured me and said, 'You've got stuff ahead of you. You can breathe.'"

Ever since, Brown has become something of a consiglieri to Page, advising him through "big moments" in his career, such as "SNL." "He's talked me through a couple of things that scared me," Page told the outlet.

Advice from his acting instructors led Sterling K. Brown to stop lifting weights

Given his health-and-fitness goal of becoming a centenarian, it's not surprising that Sterling K. Brown keeps himself in top shape. However, there was a period where Brown's pursuit of physical fitness wound up clashing with his thespian ambitions. 

Speaking with Men's Health, Brown recalled that when he was earning a postgraduate in theater at NYU, his teachers apparently thought he was getting too buff. "I was like, 'What are you talking about?'" he said. "And they were like, 'It's gonna be hard for things to pass through you with all this musculature. So for emotion, for feelings to flow through, you have to be a vessel, a sieve, rather than something that is heavily armored.'"

Rather than become offended, Brown took that advice to heart. As a result, he told Men's Health, he ditched the barbells and instead embraced yoga and calisthenics in a quest to attain a less bulky (but still ripped) physique, all in service of broadening his artistic palette as an actor. "There's a wider breadth of who you can be onstage than was allowed on the camera," Brown pointed out. "Denzel Washington, Sam Jackson, Delroy Lindo, Don Cheadle — all these dudes come from theater, and they weren't jacked-up, crazy-"

Yes, Sterling K. Brown gave his phone number to the internet

When it comes to interacting with fans, most famous actors draw the line at signing autographs and posing for selfies. Sterling K. Brown, however, ratcheted his own relationship with fans up a notch in fall 2020 when he took to Twitter and shared his personal phone number. 

In a brief video, he invited fans to give him a call or shoot him a text. "We are isolated from each other and sort of separated... [but] we still need to connect, we still need to know that people are out there who care about us," he said. "So I figured I would give you my cell phone number and we can connect. You hit me up, I'll hit you back, we can start a dialogue and we can take it one day at a time." He concluded by wishing everyone "safety, sanity, and health."

Brown's outreach to fans, noted Billboard, wasn't exactly random, but an initiative of a recently launched company called Community, with a goal of helping celebrities to connect with their audiences in a more meaningful way — while also grabbing valuable data about those fans. According to Billboard, calling Brown's number results in a voicemail message from the actor himself, who says, "Yo, this is SKB. You thought I gave you a fake number? Shame on you... I would never do that."

Sterling K. Brown's acting success has contributed to his impressive net worth

Sterling K. Brown has been acting professionally since his early 20s, and his increasing success over the years has also led to an increase in his paydays. Landing a lead role in NBC's hit drama "This Is Us," in fact, proved to be very beneficial to the actor's bank account; Celebrity Net Worth estimated that Brown has an impressive worth of a cool $10 million, a number that promises to increase accordingly as his stardom continues to grow. As the site pointed out, a hefty chunk of that fortune likely came from Brown's TV paycheck, listing his salary at $250,000 per episode (the result, as Us Weekly noted, of a raise the cast received ahead of the show's third season, bumping up Brown's initial salary of $75,000 per episode).

Now that he can afford a few extravagances, Brown has been able to indulge his love of premium watches. As he told Hodinkee, he's been building up an impressive collection, tracing his obsession with watches back to a relative. "My uncle had — and this was a big deal for a Black man in the sixties — a Rolex," Brown recalled. "I remember he never talked about it. He wasn't ostentatious, but every once in a while, I would watch other people notice his timepiece and say, 'Hey man, that's a nice timepiece.' It wasn't a watch, it was a timepiece." What a won-dial-ful purchase.