People v. O.J. Simpson Breakout Star Sterling K. Brown on His First Emmy Nomination

And why he has a bone to pick with Snapchat

Headshot of Emma Bazilian


Claim to fame Emmy nominated for his portrayal of Christopher Darden on FX's American Crime Story: The People v. O.J. Simpson; star of the new NBC series This Is Us (premieres Sept. 20 at 10 p.m.)

Base Los Angeles

Twitter @sterlingkb1

What's the first information you consume in the morning?

I wake up around 6 o'clock so I can get my 5-year-old ready for kindergarten, and usually the first thing I check out is my wife's Twitter or Facebook page. She consumes so much news and has a way of boiling it down so I don't have to go through it all at the top of the day. She also has very strong commentary that accompanies it, which I always appreciate. MSNBC is probably the station that's on most often because my wife loves watching Rachel Maddow at night, so when I turn on the TV first thing in the morning, it's still on MSNBC. I'll also go to my Twitter, check out what The New York Times has to say or maybe to The Huffington Post.

What are your go-to social media platforms?

I'm on Twitter and Instagram, and I have a Facebook page. I do have Snapchat, although I have no idea how to use it. I keep cutting myself off in the middle of sending videos because I forget that it's only 10 seconds. And I'll tell you something else about Snapchat, too: If you want to use all of the funny face filters, you have to make sure that your lighting is right. I'd Snapchat with Kate Hudson, and the filters would automatically pop up on her face because she's obviously a little bit, uh, paler than I am. But it would take infinitely more light for it to show up on my face. So shame on you, Snapchat! I need more light.

What TV shows do you watch?

Anyone with half a soul is watching Game of Thrones; otherwise, they're probably not a real human being. I just devoured all of Downton Abbey. I hadn't watched it at all, but then I did all six seasons in the course of a week and a half, which was very intense but also very lovely. There are so many things I'm trying to find time for, like The Get Down and Stranger Things, which [Sarah] Paulson told me I have to watch, so she has someone to talk about it with. I'm also doing Vice Principals because my friend Kimberly Hebert Gregory is doing a sensational job on it. And Atlanta on FX with my friend Brian Tyree Henry is awesome.

Did you watch ESPN's documentary series about O.J. Simpson?

I absolutely did, and I loved it. [Director] Ezra Edelman did an incredible job putting that together. What was particular interesting for me—and I think that most of the people from [American Crime Story] felt the same way—is that the two shows operated kind of complimentary. They didn't compete, but they informed one another in a really lovely way, especially the epilogue of Ezra's piece—what happened after the trial and the descent of Mr. Simpson and what led to his decision to go steal those things in Las Vegas. It was like watching a Greek tragedy. Hopefully there will come a time when we can look back on these shows as a relic of the past, but I'm not holding my breath.

Do you listen to any podcasts?

Denzel Washington Is The Greatest Actor Of All Time Period with Kevin Avery and W. Kamau Bell. That is the name of the podcast! It's fantastic. Guests come on and have to name their top five Denzel movies and why, and they talk about Denzel and his influences. It's mostly black actors and actresses who are working in this business and talking about how Denzel affected their lives. It's worth checking out.

What's on your reading list?

There are certain things that I tend to re-read. A book that I keep coming back to is a book by Dr. Wayne Dyer called The Power of Intention. It's a really lovely illumination of who God is for this particular individual and it resonated really strongly with me. 

How about fiction?

It's been a minute, but the last book that really floored me was Freedom by Jonathan Franzen. Don't read it if you're married. It is such a very real depiction of what marriage is for many people at particular points in time, because it has its crests and its troughs. This is about a marriage that goes through many states, and it can be quite overwhelming but also very beautiful in its depiction. 

You were recently nominated for your first Emmy award. Is there anyone in particular that you're looking forward to seeing at the ceremony? 

Well, Bryan Cranston is a beast, so that will be nice to be in the room with him. I'm also a huge fan of Tituss Burgess. I think he's just about the most hysterical thing on television, so I look forward to making his acquaintance. And obviously Julia Louis-Dreyfus, who has just been killing it. I remember this particular episode of Seinfeld where Elaine fancies herself a fantastic dancer, and she starts dancing for everybody, and it is one of the best pieces of physical comedy I think I've ever seen. It's genius.

This story first appeared in the September 12, 2016 issue of Adweek magazine.

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@adweekemma Emma Bazilian is Adweek's features editor.