Sterling K. Brown ’98 won the “Outstanding Narrator” Emmy award on Sunday for his work in the CNN documentary series “Lincoln: Divided We Stand.” The show explores Abraham Lincoln’s life and the civil war.
In a New York Times interview, Brown explained that he was inspired to join the mini series due to current American polarization.
“When people say, ‘Has the country ever been more divided than it is right now?’ it’s like, well, we were divided to the point where we actually divided,” Brown said.
Brown was also nominated for “Outstanding Lead Actor in a Drama Series” in honor of his portrayal of Randall Pearson in “This Is Us,” but the award instead went to Josh O’Connor of “The Crown.” Another Stanford alum was represented at the Sunday award show: Issa Rae ’07 received two nominations — “Outstanding Guest Actress in a Comedy Series” and “Outstanding Variety Sketch Series” — for her role in “A Black Lady Sketch Show.”
Attending Stanford was undoubtedly a formative experience for both nominees. When Brown entered college, he planned on studying economics, but Harry Elam, former Vice Provost for Undergraduate Education and then Theater and Performance Studies professor, encouraged him to pursue acting. Brown also met his wife at Stanford.
In his 2016 Emmy acceptance speech, Brown thanked his “extended family at Stanford University” and “Chocolate Cardinal,” the Black student and alumni association.
Rae experienced similar breakthroughs for her entertainment career while at Stanford. In addition to writing and producing a number of theatrical productions on campus, Rae created “Dorm Diaries” — a mockumentary series, filmed in Ujamaa, about the Black experience. She majored in African and African American studies with a minor in political science, while taking drama and creative writing courses along the way.
“Trust and believe that your Stanford community will show up for you in unexpected ways,” Rae said when speaking at the 2021 Commencement. Brown was the speaker for Stanford’s 2018 graduation ceremony.
The two alumni have quite an impressive professional history. In 2018, Brown won the Golden Globe for “Best Performance by an Actor in a Television Series – Drama,” making history as the first Black man to win the award. Brown has won three Emmys and received nine nominations. Rae is also an Emmy powerhouse, having received six nominations during her career.
Rae is known for her work as both star and executive producer on the HBO show “Insecure” and the web series “The Misadventures of Awkward Black Girl.” Brown is most often recognized for his performances in “This Is Us,” “The People v. O.J. Simpson: American Crime Story” and “Black Panther.”
“I got the best job on TV,” Brown said of his role in “This Is Us.”