Thanks to unfortunate societal standards that continue to exist, men expressing their emotions is still often considered not masculine. However, there are some men who are showing that vulnerability isn't something to be ashamed of — nor does it make you any less of a man. For example, recent Emmy winner Sterling K. Brown admits he's an emotional guy. It's something he's clearly showcased time and again on This Is Us through his character, Randall Pearson, and it's something he opened up about to Variety in a post-Emmys chat.
"My dad was a reactive kind of guy, similar to me; we let our emotions flow relatively easily," he said. "So the fact that I had him as an example, I never was caught up with this idea that I have to be a strong, silent type. If you feel something, just feel it."
It isn't always easy for men to open up or let their emotions out. Andrew Smiler, a therapist and expert on boys, men, and masculinity, told The Huffington Post in September 2014 (in regard to a 2014 study that showed men would rather receive an electric shock than be alone with their thoughts), "We teach boys and men that they need to be active, that they need to be doing; we don’t really teach them to reflect on what they’re feeling or what they’re thinking about."
In February 2014 Eva Buechel, a PhD candidate at the University of Miami, spoke with TIME about why it's easier for men to express themselves online compared to in real-time. "Men have different relationships with their friends [than women], and they might find it more difficult to approach someone in particular to talk to when they need someone to listen or comfort them," she said.
But two-time Emmy winner Brown doesn't seem to have an issue with discussing how he feels with just about anyone. He is comfortable enough to allow himself to experience a range of emotions, depending on the situation, and it also seems to work to his advantage when it comes to his career. There is absolutely no arguing that Brown was meant to be an actor. His talent is remarkable, which he proves with each new This Is Us episode. And there's no doubt his real-life emotions come through or at least help with each of Randall's heartbreaking scenes.
Like his father, Jack (Milo Ventimiglia), Randall is a passionate man, who isn't afraid to express himself. He's been through a lot in life, including the loss of both of his adoptive and biological father. So, yeah, throughout Season 1, Randall has many downs. For instance, after learning that his mother, Rebecca (Mandy Moore), lied to him for years about never knowing the identity of his biological father, what does he do? He reacts in a totally understandable way by not holding back his true feelings whatsoever.
There's also the Season 1 scene in which Randall has an anxiety attack. He is so overcome with stress, panic, and heartache, due to everything that's happening to him at once, that he breaks down. This particular moment was extremely raw and relatable for anyone who knows what it's like to suffer from anxiety. He played this scene flawlessly.
Of course, fans can't forget the "Memphis" episode in which Randall says goodbye to William. The entire episode was gut-wrenching. His character losing two fathers isn't something that has happened to Brown, but his dad died at the age of 45 after complications from a heart attack, so he can absolutely relate.
Sadly, the American Crime Story actor never got to say goodbye to his own father, Sterling Brown Jr. He was only 10 at the time of his father's death. Although his dad is gone, Brown said, "I talk to him all the time. His shell may have shuffled off this mortal coil, but he lives forever. We go hand in hand."
Even after "Memphis" aired, Brown couldn't hold in his emotions. In a Facebook Live on his official page, he discussed the episode. "If you have family that you haven’t talked to in a while or friends that you feel that you have gotten out of touch with, then call them up," he said through tears. "And let ‘em know how much you love them and how much you care because tomorrow is not promised. You got to let the people know while they’re here how much they’re appreciated and how much you love them."
If you really want to get to know Brown and see his emotions first-hand, all you have to do is follow him on Instagram. After he earned a double SAG nomination in 2016 for This Is Us and American Crime Story, the 41-year-old reacted quite emotionally and cried while recording his video. He was so overwhelmed with gratitude, he let it all out — and for all of his followers to see.
Like he said, "If you feel something, just feel it," which he undoubtedly does as himself and as Randall Pearson.