New York native Rob Brown has had a successful acting career. After auditioning to be an extra in the Sean Connery film Finding Forrester back in 2000, Brown ended up walking away with a leading role, and a new life. Since then he’s gone on to star in the HBO series Tremé, and the films The Express, Coach Carter, and The Dark Knight Rises. These days he plays FBI Agent Edgar Reade on NBC’s hit thriller Blindspot.
Recently, the actor spoke with JET about season two and what it’s like to play a law enforcement officer when–as a Black man–he knows what it’s like to be racially profiled.
While Brown can’t divulge what will happen with his character this season, he did give fans a little insight into what to expect.
At the conclusion of the first season there were a lot of questions that arose in Reade’s personal life and they stayed with him because he has no closure about it. Someone who is near and dear to him, a mentor he finds out wasn’t the guy he thought he was. That coupled with his boss’ death shook everybody but it shook Reade and he wants answers and is only coming across more questions. Reade’s usually in control and this season he’s a little inconsistent and a little out of control.
So what is it like to play a law enforcement officer when he’s been pulled over by the police for being a tall, dark skinned Black man? Brown doesn’t mince any words.
I’ve always had a healthy understanding of police since I was like 10, and basically rolling around trying not to get popped, in addition to dumb things that happen in the street as a result of growing up in Brooklyn, and as a function of just being a Black male in America. I’m a 6-foot-one, dark skinned male in America, so I get pulled over. I’ve had my issues in the past with police. If you Google my name there’s an incident that comes up that I can’t really talk about anymore. But I understand that side of it.
I’ve always had a healthy understanding of the other side of it, where police may be mistreated, or underpaid or over worked. And in this instance, as I’m playing law enforcement, I think we’re doing a good job in being fair to both sides, which is important. Has it offered any more insight? A little bit, especially when you hear guys talking about “eliminating the threat.” If you look at things from their standpoint it’s difficult to blame somebody for wanting to go home to their family if there is a perceived threat and sometimes there is and that’s real. That does offer a little bit of perspective, hearing that side of it. But I drove earlier to drop my dog off to get groomed. I was a little late, and I did have to think–as I always do when I’m driving–where are the cops?
Though Brown understands both sides of the policing issue, he also wishes more non-Black people spoke up against police violence.
I almost wish people would go through it or see it just to experience it …we’re not lying. I think people outside of the community have to say stuff and that would accelerate things. I’m a straight Black male, right? Despite that, I can recognize that a gay white female shouldn’t be oppressed and I can talk about that. So that’s what I’m missing when I look at it in terms of police and just shooting Black men. It would be great if people outside of the community would voice their opinion as much on this issue as they do about other issues for other groups.
Read the entire interview with Rob Brown on JET. Blindspot airs Wednesdays at 8 pm on NBC.