On the verge of Atlanta’s second season, Brian Tyree Henry discusses finding success in the city.
When Stone Mountain native Donald Glover’s award-winning series, Atlanta, hit the airwaves, the three leading men soon graced billboards, depicting jaws locked down on our state fruit. Morehouse College alumnus Brian Tyree Henry, who plays Alfred “Paper Boi” Miles, knows a thing or two about taking a bite out of the Big Peach. “Atlanta’s a great city to cultivate your own thing—from fashion to music to food,” the actor says. “Every single block of [the] city has always not given a damn about what anybody else thinks about it.”
The show—gorgeous and weird—explores identity and breaks stereotypes, like in its homeless Ivy Leaguer, Earn; philosophical drug dealer, Darius, played by Lakeith Stanfield; and clear-eyed trap-rapper, Alfred, who constantly fights against the caricature of his Paper Boi alter ego. It’s a celebration of the city’s culture that resonates with Henry, who’s from Fayetteville, N.C., but lived here for four years during college and was eager to return for the series. “I think that Atlanta has this huge well of black culture and openness to share all the things that we have made there,” Henry says. “I will always love [the] city for that. Always.”
The highly anticipated second season, officially renamed Atlanta Robbin’ Season (a local phrase describing the time around the holidays when crime spikes), premiers March 1. The actor, who got his start doing theater in the Big Apple and studied drama at Yale, also returns to Broadway this month alongside actors Michael Cera, Chris Evans and Bel Powley in Kenneth Lonergan’s Lobby Hero. “Theater’s literally where I started,” he says. “So to go back to New York… and to do a play on Broadway, which is the dream, I’m incredibly excited.”
Moving further into 2018, between Lobby Hero, an impressive string of films and Atlanta Robbin’ Season, Henry is primed to make out like a bandit.
Photography by: Deborah Lopez