USA TODAY TV Person of the Year: Sterling K. Brown

LOS ANGELES — There were bigger stars in the cast of The People v. O.J. Simpson: American Crime Story, but none shone brighter than Sterling K. Brown, who embodied the nobility, pain and conflict of Simpson prosecutor Chris Darden.

The St. Louis native, 40, named USA TODAY’s TV Person of the Year, had achieved success as a working actor (Army Wives), but FX’s O.J. Was a coming-out party.

His scenes with Sarah Paulson’s Marcia Clark displayed a vulnerability and compassion as the two prosecutors deal with pressure and loss. Those with Simpson defense attorney Johnnie Cochran (Courtney B. Vance) show a searing defiance in the face of condescension. All three won Emmys.

USA TODAY Entertainer of the year: Kate McKinnon.

USA TODAY Entertainer of the Year runner up: Lin-Manuel Miranda.

USA TODAY Movie Person of the Year: Dwayne ‘The Rock’ Johnson.

USA TODAY Musician of the year: Beyoncé.

USA TODAY Author of the Year: Colson Whitehead.

Sterling K. Brown is enjoying an actor’s feast.

The St. Louis native, 40, had achieved success as a working actor, no small feat in a business known for famine, before breaking out in FX’s The People v. O.J. Simpson: American Crime Story with his moving (and Emmy-winning) portrayal of prosecutor Christopher Darden, a man doing what he thinks is right while facing hostility and condescension from others He won an Emmy for the role.

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O.J. By itself would mean a huge year for most actors, but Brown then moved on to broadcast TV’s buzziest fall hit, NBC’s This Is Us, a moving family drama that has drawn critical praise and high ratings. He plays Randall, a successful business executive and family man who is emotionally torn confronts internal emotions after finding his birth father, (Ron Cephas Jones), who is dying of cancer.

Again part of a stellar cast, Brown stands out for his portrayal of a man who loves his wife and family but also struggles with perfectionism and an uncertainty about his identity shaped partly by his well-meaning white adoptive family. He simultaneously displays shows compassion and anger toward his mother (Mandy Moore), who hid his birth father’s identity. , Acknowledging her pain but denying her a hug — at least for now.

Randall “waded into the relationship very cautiously because he wasn’t originally sure how close he wanted to get to someone who could eventually be taken away from him,” Brown says. “After 36 years of not knowing him, all of a sudden to sort of fall in love and have him taken away again is not something he looks forward to.”.

This month, Brown , a stage veteran who also starred in Lifetime’s Army Wives, this month recently snagged Screen Actors Guild nominations for both those 2016 roles. O.J. And Us. The awards will be given out in January.

To top the year off, He also appeared on the big screen in 2016 in Tina Fey’sWhiskey Tango Foxtrot and filmed Marshall, due in 2017, In the movie, which focuses on U.S. Supreme Court justice Thurgood Marshall’s (Chadwick Boseman) pre-Supreme Court legal work before he became a Supreme Court justice. Brown plays a man on trial for the rape and attempted murder of a white Connecticut socialite (Kate Hudson).

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Us is a literal family affair for Brown, as his wife, Ryan Michelle Bathé, plays the mother of his character’s friend in flashback scenes from his of the childhood, after he was adopted by a white family version of his character, who was adopted at birth by a white family.

“To have come from O.J. To this is extraordinary,” Brown told USA TODAY on the Us set. “I feel like recently there’s just been an abundance of blessings that have been coming my way. I hope it continues.”.

Brown, who also has stage experience, hopes the good acting times continue, but he knows nothing is guaranteed.

“It’s one of those things where you count your blessings when you’re in the moment and when the moment passes, you just try to be connected to wherever you are in that moment. This one’s a good one. I’m going to try to enjoy it.”.