Washington, D.C. - We're used to Sterling Brown making us cry every Tuesday night on "This Is Us" as the caring husband, father, and brother Randall Pearson. The Emmy-winning actor has done it again with another passionate performance in the feature film Waves as a father who tries to deal with his guilt after failing to communicate with his children. The film, from A24 and director Trey Edward Shults, centers on an upper middle class African-American family in South Florida who are forced to deal with the repercussions of a tragedy. It is heavy, heavy subject matter. So much so that Brown urged the audience before the screening at the Washington, D.C. premiere of the film at the The National Museum of American History, "Don't leave!"
In Waves, Brown's character Ronald seems more interested in pushing his son athletically than nurturing a relationship with him. Because of that obsession, he fails to see his son Tyler spiraling out of control, before it's too late.
"It's a bit of a tragedy that he felt he couldn't be vulnerable and tell his parents everything," Brown explained of Tyler in a post-screening Q&A with the audience.
Following the devastating turning point in the movie, Ronald tries a different parenting approach with his daughter Emily and starts to open up a dialogue with her. Moms and dads must be willing to talk to their kids "to build trust and love," Brown explained. Or else, they'll succumb to the ever widening generational gap.
The cast of "Waves" takes part in a post screening Q&A. From left to right: moderator Joshua DuBois, director Trey Edward Shults, actress Taylor Russell, actor Kelvin Harrison Jr., and actor Sterling Brown.
One audience goer and concerned parent wondered how older people could relate to their kids when it seems like they're always buried in their phones. A group of students in the back of the theater were eager to answer. They elected a representative named Robert to speak on their behalf, and he provided a beautiful story about how Waves encouraged him to reach out to his dad and break the barrier between them.
Brown was impressed with the young man and acknowledged, "sometimes you guys set the example."
Waves is in theaters Friday, November 15.