When making your Screen Actors Guild Awards predictions at Gold Derby, there’s always one thing to keep in mind: these voters love what they love. Sterling K. Brown definitely fits that bill — he’s never missed out on a Best TV Drama Actor nomination for “This Is Us,” and he’ll most likely be recognized again for the current fifth season of NBC’s hit family drama. As if there was ever any doubt, SKB’s performance in the heralded “Birth Mother” episode brought him squarely back into the awards conversation at the perfect time, right as guild voters are preparing to mark their 2021 ballots.
Written by Eboni Freeman & Kay Oyegun and directed by Oyegun, the episode aired January 12 on NBC. It was a culmination of an entire season’s worth of set-up, as Randall (Brown) finally learned the truth about his birth mother Laurel, played by Jennifer C. Holmes (younger version) and Angela Gibbs (older version). Laurel’s long-lost love Hai (Vien Hong) told Laurel’s entire story to Randall and Beth (Susan Kelechi Watson), including why she never contacted Randall when he was growing up and how she died of cancer a few years earlier. The emotional hour ended with Randall stripping off his clothes and wading into the lake, where he spoke to the spirit of his birth mother and finally let go of all of his pain.
Unsurprisingly, the tear-inducing “Birth Mother” episode has a season-high IMDb rating of 9.1/10 from fans. As for critics, TVLine called the episode “heartbreaking,” while Eonline raved it was a “devastating backstory, and we can’t help but love it too.”
According to Gold Derby’s racetrack odds, Brown is predicted to receive his fifth consecutive SAG bid for Best TV Drama Actor. The other predicted nominees are 2019 champ Jason Bateman (“Ozark”), Matthew Rhys (“Perry Mason”), Bob Odenkirk (“Better Call Saul”) and Josh O’Connor (“The Crown”). The good news for all of these actors is that last year’s winner Peter Dinklage (“Game of Thrones”) is no longer eligible.
Brown is a two-time Emmy winner for “The People v. O.J. Simpson” (2016) and “This Is Us” (2017). For playing Randall Pearson, he also won a Golden Globe (2018) and three SAG Awards — one as an individual (2018) and two as part of the “This Is Us” ensemble (2018, 2019). His fourth SAG trophy came as a member of the “Black Panther” cast (2019).
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