Why Sterling K. Brown’s Role As Randall Matters For Black Men
This is why creating roles for people of color is so important.
January 15, 2018 at 2:06 pm
This year, actor Sterling K. Brown became the first African-American male actor ever to win a Golden Globe for Best Actor in a Television Drama for his role of Randall Pearson in NBC’s tear-jerking reality check of a drama, This Is Us.
“Dan Fogleman, you wrote a role for a black man. That could only be played by a black man,” Brown said at the 75th Golden Globe Awards.
Despite the well-deserved recognition and acclaim he received for his role, the real prize found within Brown’s win is the focus placed upon why creating more roles specifically for people of color is vital.
Too often, black actors and actresses are type casted to fill lackluster roles in movies and shows that continue to paint African-Americans in a bad light. Typically, black men and women have been forced to accept roles that portray them as overly promiscuous women, angry black men, thugs or the help.
With Sterling’s historic win, screenwriters everywhere should take note of why being intentional with your choices for a character is a noble act that shows their commitment to better portraying members of audience they aim to reach.
After recognizing the importance of Brown’s character, I realized that I too was in this same group of black men who lacked proper representation on TV. Shows like Fresh Prince of Bel-Air, Martin and even Family Matters served a purpose and delivered a message through characters and situations that allowed black people to see themselves. Now, we can rely on shows like Blackish but the fact still remains, we need more.
Through Randall, we are able to see a depiction of a relatable character. Black men see themselves in Randall, a father, provider, husband, who is also reconnecting with his distant father – an experience many black men have faced, myself included. However, instead of shrugging his way through this hurdle like most of us black men tend to do, Brown’s character faces reality and reconnects with his father. Through the process of acceptance, Randall does some serious self-reflection and discovers a part of him he had always searched for.
But we can't talk about Randall without discussing his raw and real relationship with his wife, Beth. In various scenes throughout the show, we see Beth as she strives to no avail to support Randall, his father, and their two daughters during tough times. We also see the positive strides Randall takes to thank and appreciate his wife for consistently supporting him. Through this imperfect example of black marriage, we’re able to see how significant it is to truly love unconditionally for better or for worse, not for convenience.
“What I appreciate so much about this thing is that I’ve been seen for who I am and being appreciated for who I am," Brown said. "And it makes it that much more difficult to dismiss me, or dismiss anybody who looks like me.”
As we live in a society where black men and black people overall repeatedly are not accepted for who they are, we must celebrate the small win that we have with Randall’s role in representing a black man who is imperfect, flawed, caring, corny, loving but most importantly, real.