It was quite a sterling moment, indeed, for This Is Us star Sterling K. Brown, as he accepted his second consecutive Emmy tonight at the Microsoft Theater. Following his breakout turn as attorney Christopher Darden—Marcia Clark’s right-hand man—in Ryan Murphy’s The People v. O.J. Simpson: American Crime Story, Brown won tonight, in This Is Us’ first go-round, for the role of Randall Pearson, the adopted son of an all-American family who quests after his biological father (fellow Emmy nominee Ron Cephas Jones), finding a relationship with the man only at the end of his life.
“Before anything like this happened for your boy, I was a fan—first, last and always, a fan. So my fellow nominees, I’m a fan. I love you all, ” Brown said earnestly. “This [award] right here, when I think about it—like, Walter White held this joint. Dick Whitman held this joint.”
Remarkably, Sterling K. Brown is the first black actor to win the Outstanding Lead Actor in a Drama Series category in almost 20 years, since Brooklyn Nine-Nine star and Emmy favorite Andre Braugher’s 1998 win for Homicide: Life on the Street—a fact that the actor called out in his speech. “19 years ago, Detective Frank Pembleton held this joint, as impeccably played by Andre Braugher,” the actor said. “I just want to say that whether it’s at Stanford University or on this stage, it’s my supreme honor to follow in your footsteps.”
Significantly, Brown’s’ victory also marks the first in 10 years for an actor in a broadcast drama, dating back to James Spader’s 2007 win for Boston Legal. The actor’s win is clearly also a big moment for NBC, whose unusual, inter-generational family drama from creator Dan Fogelman caught fire last year, bringing network television back as a leader in the awards conversation, competing strongly against premium cablers and the prominent streaming services of the day. In his category, Brown bested This Is Us co-star Milo Ventimiglia, as well as Better Call Saul frontrunner Bob Odenkirk.
Recognized at the Golden Globes, the SAG Awards, the WGA Awards, and Critics Choice Television Awards in its first season even before the Emmys, This Is Us is a series making viewers around the world laugh, cry and feel at home. From the writer who gave us such memorable and distinct series as Pitch and Galavant—and an array of beloved, contemporary films, including Tangled and Crazy, Stupid, Love—This Is Us depicts the lives of three adult siblings, and the lives of their loving parents, as told in flashbacks. Jumping from character to character, from one time to another, to provide different dimensions to a uniquely sprawling narrative, This Is Us hinges on the talents of its outstanding cast.
Starring Brown, Ventimiglia, Jones, Mandy Moore, Chrissy Metz, Justin Hartley, Susan Kelechi Watson, and Chris Sullivan, the series also features strong supporting turns from Jon Huertas and Emmy winner Gerald McRaney, among others.
Quickly picked up for an additional two seasons following its September 2016 premiere, This Is Us returns for its second season on September 26.