IE 11 is not supported. For an optimal experience visit our site on another browser.

Sterling K. Brown talks 'This Is Us' series finale, importance of Black love stories

The actor referenced one of television’s most iconic series finales when describing the last episode of “This Is Us."
This Is Us - Season 6
Sterling K. Brown as Randall in "This Is Us" episode 613 titled "Day of the Wedding"NBCU
/ Source: TODAY

For almost six years, “This Is Us” fans have been on an emotional rollercoaster as they watched the Pearsons manage the ups and downs of their lives.

One character who has been responsible for an equal amount of laughs and tears throughout the show’s run is Randall. And with only four episodes left in the drama’s sixth and final season, Randall and his family members will undoubtedly continue to pull on viewers’ heartstrings before they say goodbye

This Is Us - Season 6
(L-R) Susan Kelechi Watson as Beth, Sterling K. Brown as Randall, Jon Huertas as Miguel, Justin Hartley as Kevin, Mandy Moore as Rebecca, Chrissy Metz as Kate, Chris Geere as Phillip, Griffin Dunne as Nicky, Vanessa Bell Calloway as Edie, Adam Korson as Elijah, Kellan Tetlow as Nicky, Caitlin Thompson as Madison, Kellan Tetlow as Nicky Jr. and Callie Carlin Ogden as Franny in "Day of the Wedding"NBC

As the series finale date quickly approaches, fans have been anxiously awaiting to see how the story ends and Sterling K. Brown shared that the last episode will bring the audience a “sense of closure.”

Brown — who spoke to TODAY in a phone interview about his upcoming partnership with Stand Up To Cancer and Mastercard — said he felt an “incredible amount of satisfaction” after reading the scripts for the final episodes. 

He likened the “This Is Us” final episode to his favorite television finale scene — the last seconds of “Cheers,” when Sam Malone, played by Ted Danson, tells a customer that the bar is closed

“I just wept like a baby,” Brown said, recalling the moment from his childhood. “I feel like our show’s already prone to inducing tears. I think (these) will be tears of satisfaction with how our story comes to an end.”

This Is Us - Season 6
(L-R) Sterling K. Brown, Susan Kelechi Watson, Milo Ventimiglia, Justin Hartley, Mandy Moore, Chrissy Metz and Chris SullivanNBC

Speaking of the many teary-eyed moments throughout the series, Brown also named some of his favorite Randall storylines. The three that stood out to him were the relationship between Randall and his father William (Ron Cephas Jones) in Season One , Beth (Susan Kelechi Watson) and Randall’s marriage struggles in Season Three and the multiple scenes with his three TV daughters.

He complimented Lyric Ross, who joined the show in Season Two as Déjà. Brown said the scenes between Randall and Déjà were always “transformative.” 

The 46-year-old actor then applauded Eris Baker, who portrays Randall’s middle child, Tess. He referenced Tess’s heavy Season Three dialogue when she came out to her parents

“I remember how nervous she was about the scene and how extraordinary she was in it,” he said. “That moment of coming out to your parents is one that can be fraught with a lot of anticipation, a lot of fear and I was very happy with the grace and acceptance with which Randall and Beth received their child.”

After the episode, titled “The Beginning Is The End Is The Beginning,” aired, Brown said there were a few occasions where fans approached him about the poignant scene. “In one instance, one person said, ‘I was not as accepting as the Pearsons were when my child came out to me. But I’ve seen that I see now that I’ve seen you all, I know that I can do better (at) sort of just creating the space for people to be people.’”

The pivotal moment with Tess and the welcoming of Déjà are just two points on the extensive list of reasons why fans love the Black Pearsons. At the top of the list is the relationship between Randall and Beth, arguably the most loving and charming couple on “This Is Us.”

This is Us - Season: 6
(L-R) Lyric Ross as Déjà, Susan Kelechi Watson as Beth, Sterling K. Brown as Randall, Faithe Herman as Annie and Eris Baker as Tess in episode 601 titled "The Challenger"NBC

“I think there’s something really beautiful about Black love,” Brown said about the overwhelming support for Beth and Randall. 

He noted that there are few current examples on television of married Black couples and that the “This Is Us” audience is predominantly white. 

“There’s a strong sort of pull towards representation and what people see and how we are exposed to different cultures, different people, etc.,” he explained. “And to see a family man who is deeply devoted to his wife, to see two people who are deeply devoted to one another, and mutually devoted to their children, who are African Americans, who are family-first individuals, goes a long way in terms of representation and the humanization of Black people.”

Following racial unrest and the deaths of Black men and women in 2020 such as George Floyd, Ahmaud Arbery, Breonna Taylor and more, Brown said it was especially important for TV to “humanize people who don’t look like the mainstream so that the mainstream recognizes that we are indeed people too, that Black Lives Matter.” 

He explained how Beth and Randall’s marriage is also crucial for Black viewers who have only seen Black people depicted as stereotypes on television. 

Brown hopes the series has shown that “the differences that we perceive, are not as great as the commonalities that we hold with one another.” 

He said that message is one of the reasons that both he and Watson, who he called his “partner in crime,” are filled with joy when they shoot their scenes. 

During his interview with TODAY, Brown revealed that the Black Pearsons had wrapped filming at their fictional Philadelphia home a few days prior. 

Brown said that the pictures hanging in the house, specifically the ones near the stairs, are photos that show Ross, Baker and Faithe Herman, who plays Annie, when they were very young and first appeared on “This Is Us.” 

Before the home was torn down, Brown said he and Watson took a few of the family photos to have images of how the girls have grown in the past six years. 

He sweetly added, “It’s an incredible thing to behold. So, I have real sons in real life. I have daughters on TV. And I have pictures of both.” 

The actor wouldn’t mind keeping a few of the Pearsons’ board games, too–including the Taboo set from Season Six, which led to, in his opinion, “the most awkward games of Taboo in television history.” 

This Is Us - Season 6
Sterling K. Brown as Randall, Chris Sullivan as Toby, Chrissy Metz as Kate, Justin Hartley as Kevin, Susan Kelechi Watson as Beth, Jon Huertas as Miguel, Eris Baker as Tess, Lyric Ross as Déjà, Mandy Moore as Rebecca and Faithe Herman as Annie in episode 607 titled "Taboo"Ron Batzdorff / NBC

As for the famous Pilgrim Rick hat, Brown is not sure who is going to take it. But, he knows who it should go to.

“It would make sense for Randall to have it because he is a Thanksgiving aficionado,” he shared. 

While fans will certainly miss Randall after the finale airs on May 24, they won’t have to wait too long before they see Brown on their screens again.

He already has multiple projects lined up, including his Hulu miniseries “Washington Black” about an 11-year-old enslaved boy who escapes a Barbados sugar plantation. Brown, who is also an executive producer of the series, said he will be on location in Nova Scotia for the project when the “This Is Us” finale airs.

Fans will also see him collaborating with Mastercard and Stand Up To Cancer, which is a disease he said has tremendously impacted his family. As part of the partnership, Mastercard will donate one cent– up to $5 million– to Stand Up To Cancer every time a cardholder purchases groceries or dines out. 

For the campaign, Brown dresses as a barista and explains to cardholders how they can participate in the cause. He described the campaign as fun and uplifting.

“I always look for opportunities to get a chance to show some of the comical stylings of SKB,” he said. “Folks tell me I make them cry all the time. I try to make them smile and laugh a little bit too.”