Why Sterling K. Brown No Longer Goes By His Middle Name

Sterling K. Brown in a gray suit on the red carpet

By Brianna Morton |

Sterling K. Brown in a gray suit on the red carpet

(Getty Images)

Sterling K. Brown didn’t always go by “Sterling.” In his youth, the This Is Us actor went by his middle name, Kelby. It wasn’t until the 43-year-old actor was in his teens that he made the switch.

Brown was named for his father, Sterling Brown, who passed away when the This Is Us star was 10 years old. Speaking with Access Hollywood, via People, the actor revealed that he’d decided at a young age to go by his middle name rather than his first name. “My mom tells me this story — she was reiterating it the other day — in kindergarten, I came home one day and said, ‘Mom, Sterling is eight letters and Kelby is five. I’ll just do Kelby and then when I turn 16, I will go by Sterling.’”

Growing up, Brown also considered his first name “an old man’s name” quite simply because “it was my old man’s name,” as he told Men’s Health. But something changed when he reached his teenage years. “The impetus for me is that he had been gone for some time, and I was like, ‘Kelby was a little boy’s name.’ I felt like I was ready to become Sterling,” the actor explained.

Sterling Brown’s legacy lives on in his son

There was one more reason Sterling K. Brown decided to change his name, and it wasn’t just to show that he’d grown up. As mentioned earlier, Brown’s father died when he was young, so part of his motivation for the change was the opportunity to hear his father’s name again. When he accepted the Emmy for Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Limited Series in 2016 for his role as Christopher Darden in American Crime Story: The People v. O.J. Simpson, Brown gave an emotional speech invoking his father’s name. “Sterling Brown Jr., I changed what people called me at age 16 so I could hear your name every day of my life. I love you, daddy.”

Since Brown stars on a very popular TV drama, tabloids will sometimes involve him in their own manufactured dramas. For instance, Star reported in October 2017 that Brown and This Is Us co-star Justin Hartley were feuding. A so-called “insider” told the outlet the onscreen brothers were “battling for story lines and more screen time” behind the scenes. Gossip Cop checked in with a trusted source in Brown’s camp who told us these claims were “so not true.”

It wasn’t the first time the tabloids targeted the immensely popular show’s cast with their lies. In fact, Gossip Cop wrote an entire article on all the times tabloids had tried in the past. The writers at these gossip rags create such great fiction, they should consider a job change.