Brian Tyree Henry
The co-star of the FX series Atlanta, 36, also shines in the recent movies Widows and White Boy Rick and the upcoming If Beale Street Could Talk (Dec. 14). He plays ex-con Daniel Carty, alongside Stephan James, in the drama from writer-director Barry Jenkins, whose movie Moonlight won the Best Picture Oscar in 2017.
Tell us about Beale Street and your character. Daniel Carty is a man who has been incarcerated for just being at the wrong place at the wrong time, broken down and beaten up about his place in the world because now he’s a felon. He’s definitely not considered a human being anymore.
What was it like to work with Viola Davis in Widows?
It was an out-of-body experience. I still fan out over every single person that I’ve worked with. I have to step back and realize that I’m in the room too.
You come from a non-showbiz family. Who were your
inspirations? An actor friend of mine gave me a book of plays that took place in Harlem with photos of Cicely Tyson, James Earl Jones, Phylicia Rashad, Debbie Allen, Sam Jackson, James Pickens Jr. and Denzel Washington. That gave me a vision of what I’m doing, because they started in the Harlem Theatre Company when no one in the city would do plays with black writers or black actors.