It may seem like Sterling K. Brown came out of nowhere with his award-winning roles in This Is Us and The People v. O.J. Simpson, but he’s actually been working hard in Hollywood for a decade and a half now. Now the 41-year-old actor is finally getting his due, especially as he just became the first black actor to win the Golden Globe for Best Actor in a TV Drama.
“To finally be the first of something is really interesting because I never considered myself to be a trailblazer,” Sterling said backstage at the award show on Sunday, Jan. 7, according to ABC News. “I just try to stand in my truth all the time, and if I come from a place of truth, that’s all I can do. I can’t worry about trying to be Jackie Robinson or anything else, but I’m honored.”
Sterling was born Kelby Brown in St. Louis, MO, and changed his name to Sterling when he was 16 to honor his late father. He graduated from Stanford University — where he met Ryan Michelle Bathe, his future wife and This Is Us co-star — and then got an MFA from New York University’s Tisch School of the Arts.
In the past 15 years, Sterling has popped up in many guest-starring TV roles (e.g. ER, NYPD Blue, The Good Wife) and enjoyed a full-time gig (on the Lifetime drama Army Wives), but it wasn’t until 2016 that he really became a household name thanks to his part in FX’sThe People v. O.J. Simpson. That performance earned him his first Emmy, and he won his second a year later for his work on NBC’s family drama This Is Us. Now he’s becoming a movie star, too, with turns in the films Marshall and Whiskey Tango Foxtrot and the upcoming tentpoles Black Panther and The Predator.
Still, as he mentioned in his Golden Globes acceptance speech, his first priority is his family. He and Ryan have two kids, Andrew and Amaré. “The love of a child, nothing can surpass that,” Sterling told Today in September. Well said, but we bet a history-making Golden Globe feels pretty good, too.