Sterling K. Brown Emotionally Recalls Seeing His Dad for the Last Time Before His Death
The last moment Sterling K. Brown shared with his late dad is one he’ll remember forever.
The celebrated This Is Us actor plays a father struggling with raising his high-school athlete son in his new movie Waves, which is earning the Emmy winner Oscar buzz. PEOPLE has an exclusive clip of the actor’s interview on this week’s episode of Sunday Today with Willie Geist, in which he opens up about his relationship with his late father, Sterling Brown, and how their bond affects his work now.
“I think the whole dynamic of fathers and sons is one that resonates with me, and is resonating really strong right now,” Brown says. “My dad was 45 when he passed away, and I was 10.”
Of the day that his dad died, Brown, 43, goes on to say that he remembers “really specific things.”
“Waking up that morning and going into the kitchen and my mom being on the phone and calling the paramedics, and asking me to put clothes on my dad, ‘cause he was naked in the bed,” Brown recalls. “And his body was stiff. And as they’re carrying him out on the stretcher, he looks at me over the railing, and he winks. Just winks. They carry him out the door — last time I saw him.”
“I will say this, about Sterling Brown Jr.: He filled me up with so much love. So while the time was short, it was everything that I could’ve hoped for for 10 years,” Brown adds.
Brown has opened up about the impact his late dad had on him before.
At the 2016 Emmy Awards, the The People v. O.J. Simpson: American Crime Story star dedicated his win to his father. He later told Access Hollywood Live that his father – a TV lover – was “smiling from ear to ear.”
“I lost my dad relatively early in life, but he gave me 10 of the best years that a kid could ever have,” Brown said. “And I never doubt that he loved me unequivocally, unconditionally. Oh he loved TV. He loved entertainment, and so the fact that I became an actor and this is what I do for a living, like I know he’s smiling from ear to ear.”
Brown also revealed that he changed his name as a teenager in honor of his father. As a child he went by Kelby, but told his mother that he would be called Sterling when he turned 16.
“I went by Kelby. My mom tells me this story – she was reiterating it the other day – in kindergarten I came home one day and said, ‘Mom, Sterling is eight letters and Kelby is five. I’ll just do Kelby and then when I turn 16, I will go by Sterling.’ And I don’t remember that. The impetus for me is that he had been gone for some time, and I was like, ‘Kelby was a little boy’s name.’ I felt like I was ready to become Sterling,” the actor said.
Brown’s full interview on Sunday TODAY with Willie Geist airs Sunday at 8 a.m. ET on NBC.