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Sterling K. Brown reflects on fatherhood and not being average in life or his new film “Waves”

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In the bold, intense new film, “Waves,” Sterling K. Brown plays Ronald, the father of two teenagers, Tyler (Kelvin Harrison Jr.) and Emily (Taylor Russell). Tyler, a high school senior, is a wrestler, and Ronald trains him. He is hard on his son, because he wants him to succeed. Ronald even tells Ty, “We are not afforded the luxury of being average.” As Tyler’s story plays out, however, “Waves” shifts to tell Emily’s story, which involves a poignant heart-to-heart she has with her father.

Ronald may be a dad who is as driven as Randall Pearson, the father Brown plays on “This Is Us” (and for which he won an Emmy), but the actor disappears into his role in “Waves.” He shows his strength — both physical and emotional — as well as his vulnerability as his family experiences moments of crisis and catharsis. The film’s title suggest that the effects people have on one another are larger than ripples; they are waves.

In a recent interview, Brown spoke with Salon about his new film, fatherhood, and what lessons he learned as a teenager and imparts as a parent.

Ronald is self-described as a wise and noble father in “Waves,” and even “Randall” on “This is Us” is a caring father. You are a dad in real life. What are your observations on fatherhood and the importance of family?
Fatherhood is everything to me, man. The best role I had is the day my first son was born, and I got to call myself a father for the first time. I only had a dad for a limited amount of time — 10 years — and to step into his shoes and pass on the love I had to my son is everything. I enjoy paternalist roles because I enjoyed the dad I had and who is still with me in my heart.

Can you describe what you were like as a........

© Salon