Neil Brown Jr. gets to play pretend for the rest of his life. His words, not mine. But if you really sit back and think about it, he’s absolutely right.
Fans of Insecure and most recently SEAL Team might also be able to attest to this statement as well, as they watch him so effortlessly portray DJ Yella, Chad and Ray respectively. And whether that’s due to his on-point comedic timing or striking ability to connect with his character and viewers, it’s obvious that pretend or not: Brown was indeed made for these roles.
What’s also obvious about the Florida native is that he’s madly in love with his craft, his life, and most importantly his wife. He emphatically gushes about her as we chat over the phone in the early hours of the day. He tells me that not only does his wife Catrina play a pivotal role in his professional evolution, but his personal one as well.
“Her love abounds,” he explains. “You know, it turned me into a man, a father, a good friend, a faithful husband, and a faithful Christian in a certain way. She’s a cold piece of work. That’s my soulmate. I knew we were always going to be together, but we had to learn to be together and how to interpret the dream that was our marriage.”
I got the chance to talk to Neil about his new role, why compromise is central to maintaining a long relationship, and why having the capacity to love and endure is so important. Check out the highlights below and click here to read the full article:
On The Black Love Docu-series
We never knew that it was going to be as big as it was. At that point, we had been together for about 18, 20 years and we just saw so many couples with this false sense of what it takes to make a relationship or a marriage work. And no matter what they said, as soon as it got a little rough, they’re like, ‘Well I don’t have to stand for this.’
Throughout our walk in faith, in God and with each other, no matter how rough it got–we had to go back to the core value which was that we wanted to make it work. Outside of someone being abusive towards you, if you made a commitment to each other, then you made a commitment to work things out, not just to be cool when things are all good…
On Learning His Wife’s Love Language
But I always pray to speak to my wife in the love language that she understands and for her to speak to me in a language that we understand.That journey has been so magical because you get little breakthroughs. Especially when you realize you two just had a debate over something and you realize it wasn’t an argument anymore but more like, “I need you to understand me about this.” And you both get it and understand…
On Maintaining Your Relationship
Just because people aren’t arguing, it doesn’t mean things are great and just because people are arguing, it doesn’t mean their relationship is bad. So you really can’t look to others or what you need to learn about each other. Because a lot of times the only taste of happiness and joy that some people will ever get in a relationship is when they take a bite out of yours. So you don’t want other people influencing your process of loving the one you’re with…
On SEAL TEAM
The fans are so engaged and then I keep running into military personnel from all branches and they really feel it. You know, we’re trying to portray the pain and the pitfalls of not just the Special Operators, but their families as well. But they all dig the show and that’s the most heartwarming thing. I actually wanted to be a Navy Seal when I was a kid but I just didn’t want to join the Navy (laughs). But now I get to play one on TV which is far more lucrative and way less dangerous…
Chad’s just an honest dude, but Prentice Penny and Issa [Rae] and Melina [Matsoukas]–they’ve been so great. The writers on that show are crazy. People think I’m ad-libbing a lot but I’m not…But the funny thing is, I think everybody at some point in their life knows a person like Chad. But I’m humbled by it, the love is real, it’s another dream come true. I couldn’t thank HBO and Issa enough. Plus I get to play off Jay Ellis, we have a good time. I wish you guys could see what doesn’t make the show…