Sterling K. Brown honors the teacher who ‘influenced the trajectory of my life’

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American treasure Sterling K. Brown has another accolade to add to an already ballooning list. The star of This is Us was recognized by TIME as one of their TIME 100 honorees, along with Tiffany Hadish, Trevor Noah, Lena Waithe, John Krasinski and 95 other “influential pioneers, leaders, titans, artists and icons.” During the award gala on Tuesday night, Sterling used his time on stage to recognize a teacher, Barbara Jenkins Bull or, as Sterling called her, Mrs. B., for inspiring him not only during his schooling, but throughout his life. Here are some excerpts from his speech:

One of the greatest gifts you can give to anyone is the gift of your presence, and that’s exactly what Barbara Bull gave to me. Mrs. B was my high school advisor and middle school algebra teacher. She wasn’t just good at her job, she was passionate about it, and not just for the subject matter, but for the students that she taught as well.

Mrs. Bull was that first adult who spoke to me about life. When most folks in my family didn’t like to discuss finances ‑‑ I don’t know if you know this, black folks don’t like to talk about money ‑‑ Mrs. Bull would highlight your boy about the stock market and how she was able to double her income by playing it. Haven’t quite been that successful as of yet.

I remember asking Mrs. B in the ninth grade where she went to school, and I remember thinking to myself, if I could kind of set myself on the same trajectory as this woman maybe I have the opportunity to live an extraordinary life as well. She said, “I want to Stanford.” I said, “I think I’m going to go there.” And she said, “Well, you have to work hard.” I said, “Okay.” I went to Stanford.

It was never necessary for Mrs. Bull to tell me what she believed. She was never inclined to preach to me or mandate that I see the world through the same prism as herself. She simply led a life well lived. And in walking the walk, she influenced the trajectory of my life in ways she and I could never have imagined. She filled me up with so much love; I felt like I could run through a brick wall, and I wanted to do it for her.

[From TIME]

I’ve always wanted a platform to be able to thank quite a few teachers their support and inspiration and it’s wonderful that Sterling recognized the educator who had such an impact on his life. They could have a future TIME 100 made up solely of teachers and I would be very happy about that. Just make sure Margaret Barbick from St. Rose of Lima in Miami Shores, Florida is included.

Also during the event, Sterling said that he’d like to follow up his role in Black Panther with another superhero flick. He confessed, “I wouldn’t mind being the Green Lantern. It would be fun. I’ve been watching cartoons since I was a kid. There was a black man portraying the Green Lantern. To see someone who looked like me meant a lot.”

I’m up for seeing Sterling in whatever project he wants to take on, as long as it doesn’t interfere with his work on This is Us. Last week, the actor spoke with Entertainment Weekly about the mysterious season two cliffhanger involving older Randall and adult Tess. If you recall, the season finale flash-forwarded to the pair in an ambiguous location, with Randall telling his daughter, “It’s time to go see her,” to which she replied, “I’m not ready,” and Randall agreed, saying, “I’m not either.” Who is “her” and what happened?

Sterling told EW, “I know who the person is that future Randall is referring to, but [series creator Dan] Fogelman would cut off my big toe if I actually told you who it was.” Even though he had to remain vague, he added, “But I can tell you it’s probably not what you suspect. In classic Fogelman style, it will be like, ‘Oh, wow — didn’t see that coming.’”

As for telling this mystery person’s story, all will be revealed, promises Sterling. He said of the show’s creator,

“[He] has a very keen understanding of what the beginning, middle, and end of our show is, and that’s important because he often likens our show to Lost in terms of its structure. You’re dealing with present-day circumstances, and then you have these flashbacks which further illuminate the present circumstances of the characters. … When you see that flash-forward to the future, it will ultimately help to illuminate what the end of our story will be. That’s pretty big. Without telling you anything, I actually told you quite a bit.”

[From Entertainment Weekly]

I don’t know about you, but the next season of This is Us can’t come soon enough. I miss Sterling on my TV screen.

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11 Responses to “Sterling K. Brown honors the teacher who ‘influenced the trajectory of my life’”

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  1. deets says:

    Oh, I wanna do mine!

    Ms. Ojo, for having the brass to try to teach a bunch of mostly teenage white kids about privilege. And doing it so well that some of us learned a bit. She believed we all could be better, until we were.

    Mr. Ellis, for pushing us, and teaching us so much, so quickly that my first year Bio in Uni was all review. He believed we all could do better, and we did.

  2. IlsaLund says:

    My most memorable teacher was my 5th grade teacher, Miss Aldridge. She opened our minds to the arts and music. Outside of our regular school currriculum, she would have us listening to opera, classical music, and other art forms we would never have known about if not for her. She helped many of us expand our horizons and look beyond to a better future.

  3. Lucy2 says:

    I can’t say that I myself had one standout teacher, but most of my family works in education, so it’s always nice to hear stories like this.

    If you haven’t seen Sterling’s Brooklyn 99 episode I would highly recommend it (and the show in general, it’s sweet, silly fun).

  4. lightpurple says:


  5. Rumi says:

    Teachers can have tremendous impact on our lives. Most of my teachers were there for the paycheck. But there were a few who opened our minds and encouraged us to explore and think critically. They were all about awareness of what’s happening to you and around you. I’m forever grateful for them. Especially my philosophy teacher. Turned everything I thought I knew about myself and the world on its head.

  6. Agenbiter says:

    Hooray for quiety influencing him through her ‘life well lived’ –
    but a big WTF to telling him he could double his income by ‘playing the stock market’

    • Agat says:

      Hum, why wtf? It’s totally possible if you are smart and know how the financial market works. So much so that my dad does it too

  7. Notsoanonymous says:

    About two years ago, in my thirties, I found my former teacher’s email address and personally thanked him. I grew up moving homes every year as we were poor/near poverty and always renters. When I moved between elementary and junior high, I begged my parents to let me bus across town to the school where I *should* have gone. It was a horrible plan but I did it for three years. My first period algebra teacher grew concerned about me missing his class, figured out that I was missing first period because I was bussing for an hour each way, and began (with written documentation and permission) driving me to school every morning. It made a massive impact on my grades and also touched me on a personal level, as a girl who really didn’t have a positive male in my life.

    He’s an administrator now, so it was easy to find him. He knew who I was and was so happy to hear from me. I sent along a few photos of my family. It was a really lovely interaction.

    I highly recommend finding that person if you can and telling them what they meant to you.

  8. Casi says:

    Fun St. Louis fact: Sterling went to a private high school, Country Day School (which merged with a private school called Mary Institute and is now called MICDS although it’s still pretty common to call it Country Day).

    MICDS’s big rival is a private school called John Burroughs School. Burroughs’ most famous actor alum at the moment is none other than Jon Hamm.

  9. Yeahiknow says:

    I love this so much! He seems like such a great, down to earth guy. I’ve had a few teachers who were amazing. Personally, one of the biggest rewards I’ve gotten professionally is being able to do ja in a day at inner city schools. The kids are so excited for something new, and the way they react to you is something else. Everyone can have an impact if they care enough.