On My Radar: Stephanie Beatriz Interviews Co-Star Andre Braugher About the Emmys

Andre Braugher
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(Terry Crews, who plays Sargent Terry Jeffords on Brooklyn Nine-Nine, excitedly interrupts us here.)

Terry: Andre! Congratulations again on your nomination. I mean, well-deserved brother! Well-deserved.

S: (laughing) I’m recording this!

T: OH NO I’M SORRY!

S: No, it’s great! I’m gonna put it in the blog.

T: I’m serious. I’m gonna be with you in spirit, Andre. No matter what on Monday.

A: (laughing) You’ll see me in my monkey suit, and if they call my name and I get up I’ll thank all the people who put me there.

(We resume wiping off makeup)

S: Why do you think these awards matter? Or don’t matter? In popular culture, I mean, why do they matter or not matter?

A: Well, people like a contest. There's no doubt about that; people like to see winners and losers, that’s how it works in the mind. But ultimately it’s a huge commercial for our business. Our business is television, and television reaches a lot of people. So what we want to do is put the entire business forth in the best light. We want to  put forth our best shows, our most interesting actors, our most notable comedies, and so the Emmys is an effort really to do that. To let people know that the work on television has not gone away, and it’s really spectacular.

S: I asked you earlier how long it takes you to get ready for an awards show. Just for comparison I told you that it took me 3 hours to get ready for the Golden Globes, and you said it takes you about 30 minutes. I was jealous.

A: Yeah. It’s a shower, maybe a little Aqua de Gio. There are no hair products necessary; you know what I’m saying? So I brush my teeth, take a shower, a little lotion. It’s really socks, underwear, the shirt… the longest part really is putting in the cufflinks. You tie the tie, the coat, the pants… I’m ready. Right?

S: Shameful. The character that you play (on Brooklyn Nine-Nine) is an African American homosexual captain in the NYPD who has faced prejudices in the past and in the present in his career. In your own career path, have you had similar experiences? As the world around you has changed, have your own experiences reflected that change?

A: The biggest change has been in the quality of the roles. You know, the quality of the storytelling. From the beginning of my career the most important thing to me was to get inside the family. At the beginning of my career, I was always the outsider. I was always the kindly schoolteacher or whatever the role was. And at a certain point I’m just tired of those roles, because they don’t carry the emotional content of the story. So during the whole course of my career, these last 30 years, I’ve moved from the outside to the inside. And that’s important to me.

I resist, and have resisted at all times, that kind of… sentimentality of the family? You know what I mean, the family story? I want to tell more credible and authentic family stories. But I’ve finally arrived, after 30 years, at the point where I feel like we’re telling credible and authentic family stories, and my character is the center of that rather than an outsider. There is, of course, more to be done, but I’ve seen in 30 years a wholesale change in the quality of the roles I’ve been playing.

S: That is such a good answer. Ok, just for my own nerdy self, what’s your favorite Shakespeare role? One you have played or haven’t played.

A: The one I have played is Iago. And I think I would like to play…

S: The nurse? The Nurse in Romeo and Juliet?

A: (laughs) No, I’m going to leave all the women’s roles for the women. There’s been a fad lately where the men are taking not only all the men’s roles but the women’s roles too.  (I MEAN COME ON THIS MAN IS THE RADDEST!) People are talking about an Othello, but I don’t think I’m up for the role.

S: Oh no! I think you’d be a great one!

A: You know I’ve played Iago, and I think it’s the superior role. It’s a fascinating role. You know what’s interesting, when I played that role everyone was suggesting that Iago is somehow a psychopath. And I don’t think so. When I played the role I made the choice to believe everything he said was true. So consequently I had plenty of motivation to “hate the Moor” and engage in this kind of… destruction. But I tried to make sure it started form a very small intimate place and grew, rather than being a, I guess what poet Samuel Taylor Coleridge termed, a “motiveless malignancy.”

And then we proceeded to nerd out on Shakespeare’s Othello for another 20 minutes. Andre didn’t win on Monday, but I doubt it will affect him in any way whatsoever. He is a consummate professional, a passionate artist, and one of my favorite people to nerd out with.

Read more of Stephanie's thoughts by reading her other On My Radar entries here.