“This Is Us” Star Sterling K. Brown Covers November Issue of Men’s Health Magazine

Posted on October 15, 2019

Sterling K. Brown, best known for his role as Randall in the hit series “This Is Us,” covers the November issue of Men’s Health. Inside, Sterling opens up about his goal to live to 100, how he coped with his father’s death, and about rejection and success in the acting world.

 

 

 

On his intensity in the gym: “Listen, I have friends that I will enlist to work out with me, and they’ll be like, Yo, Brown, you need to calm down. You know you’re 43 now. And I’m like, Yeah, age ain’t nothin’ but a number.”

On his exercise philosophy: “It’s easier to maintain a level of fitness than it is to lose it and try to get it back. You want to do enough that you feel like you’ve done something, but not so much that you don’t wanna do it again tomorrow. So it’s not about trying to kill yourself. It’s about trying to give yourself the inspiration to continue.”

On reacting to his father, Sterling, passing at age 45 from a diabetes-induced heart attack: “I just cried. I just cried. I miss him. Pops would’ve loved this stuff.” [referring to Sterling K. playing sports and his acting success] “Crying has never been a thing for me, like as a way to not be masculine, because my dad would watch a movie and it was just boo-fuckin’-hoo all the way through the whole thing. We would both be crying together, whether it was an animated movie or whatever. That was never forbidden or taboo. I was allowed to feel, because he felt.”

On how embracing his given name (Sterling K. went by his middle name, Kelby, until his mid-teens) became part of the grieving process: “Sterling always felt like an old man’s name because it was my old man’s name. But now it’s my name.”

On his goal to live to 100, given the fact that black men are in worse health than almost any other demographic in the U.S.: “I think when Pops passed, I had sort of a recognition of the fact that 45 was young…I just don’t want to give in to the statistical analysis that says that is my fate. 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. There’s so much to live for, and I don’t want to sell myself short by thinking I don’t have a right to longevity and vitality any more or less than anyone else.”

On men taking a laissez-faire approach to their health: “Men want to suffer through stuff. It serves us in certain circumstances, and in others we leave well enough alone for too long. I mean, if we’re looking at something as simple as prostate cancer and being able to check oneself, and the sort of fear or discomfort that the community at large may experience due to good old-fashioned homophobia—there’s foolishness that keeps us from living our best lives.”

On how cultural health barriers can be overcome: “So many young black men are into sports. And then for whatever reason [as adults] they see sports as no longer being a part of their life. So when the sport is removed, the tenets for liv­ing a physically fit life aren’t necessarily in place. More of us have to learn how to carry the tenets that we learned that made us want to be competitive in that sport to just be competitive in life and maintain fitness. There are benefits beyond the game.”

On how initially, the idea of making a career out of acting was laughable: “I was always good with numbers. I was the AP Econ guy. I thought making money was it. I thought it [acting] was something that only people who didn’t have to make a contribution to their families were allowed to do. I gotta help.”

On landing his first role as the lead in a Stanford school production: “Even though I was spending another two or three hours a night memorizing lines, my grades got better. You know how the work is work but it doesn’t feel arduous? That’s something you have to pay attention to.”

On advice from teachers in his NYU drama grad program, who convinced him to stop lifting, shifting his focus on yoga and cardio: “My teachers told me to stop lifting weights. I was like, ‘What are you talking about?’ 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.’”

On the black males who influenced him in his early theatre days: “There’s a wider breadth of who you can be onstage than was allowed on the camera. Den­zel Washington, Sam Jackson, Delroy Lindo, Don Cheadle—all these dudes come from theater, and they weren’t jacked-up, crazy-looking dudes.”

On considering himself lucky to work regularly enough to pay the bills in his 20s: “At any point 90 percent of all the acting-union members are unemployed, and you’re just fighting to be part of the rotating 2 percent. There’s so much rejection that you have to be willing to deal with and let it sort of roll off your back. There are peo­ple I know who are absolutely brilliant who had to segue into something else in life.”

On support from his wife, actress Ryan Michelle Bathe: “Ryan celebrates my success. But sometimes it’s like, Damn, bro, when’s it my turn?”

On finding success in acting: “For such a long time, you’re wait­ing and hoping for these crumbs from the table of joy. Then all of a sudden people are like, What do you wanna do? What are you interested in? We wanna work with you!”

On how his own life has inspired plot lines for This Is Us: “I share things from my past that directly impact the way in which young Randall is written.”

On why he’s passionate about what he does: “I want to hopefully give you some sense of inspira­tion, either to make the world a better place or for you to be a better person. And so when I step into a theater, when I step on set, it is my sanctuary. It’s me and it’s not me. I’m a vessel for a story to be told, for a perspective to be illuminated.”

On launching his production company, Indiana Meadows: “Anytime you step into the unknown, there’s a degree of fear. But I do know that when the desire supersedes the fear, the momentum carries you forward.”

 

[Photo Credit: Beau Grealy/Men’s Health Magazine]

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