Chris Sullivan of ‘This is Us’ takes risks on the red carpet

NEW YORK — Chris Sullivan may or may not win at this weekend’s Emmy Awards, but it’s a sure bet that when he strikes a pose on the red carpet, his unconventional attire will make a statement.

At past events, Sullivan has donned a top hat and cane, brightly colored flowered pants and suits with flashy patterns. The “This is Us” actor says the notion that everyone learns lessons from failure gives him the courage to take fashion risks.

“You put (his co-stars) Justin (Hartley), Sterling (K. Brown) and Milo (Ventimiglia) in a blue, gray or dark suit, and they look like James Bond. You put me in those same suits and I look like a bank teller. And so, I’ve always enjoyed wearing things that I shouldn’t technically be wearing or things that you shouldn’t be allowed to wear,” Sullivan told The Associated Press in a recent interview.

Sullivan is a first-time Emmy nominee for best supporting actor for his role as Toby on the show. The awards will be given out Sunday in Los Angeles.

Sullivan, who enjoys overdressing for an occasion at times, says he’s playing with fashion while pushing boundaries.

“There’s an element of challenging what is, what are masculine norms, as far as how you’re supposed to dress or how you’re supposed to look, or whether or not you can paint your fingernails or wear makeup or, you know, wear a dress, or put whatever you want and have fun expressing yourself in another way, which on the red carpet is through clothing and appearance,” he said.

He has worn dark-colored nail polish on a red carpet and once got called out by a reporter.

“(The reporter) didn’t have a problem with me wearing nail polish. But I think their mind just immediately went to, ‘Well, that’s not allowed. You’re not allowed to do that.’ Well, why not? The idea of… what a straight, white middle-aged male’s supposed to look like and sound like and act like is up for debate. It’s all up for debate these days,” he said. “And in a conversation, where most of my job is to just ask questions, stay curious and be of service, that is a little small way that I can challenge perceptions.”

Even so, Sullivan said he understands why others toe the fashion line for red carpet looks.

“We are all in a creative industry, and we are all scrutinized to a great degree. So, the ego will tell you to not take a risk and to not put yourself out there for that criticism,” he said.

But if he’s in a tie-dyed pants, Bermuda shorts, or newsboy cap kind of mood, he’s not going to let traditional fashion rules keep him down.

“There’ve been a lot of failures,” Sullivan said. “But I have learned a lot about myself through wearing them, and I certainly enjoyed wearing them at the time or I wouldn’t have worn them out in public.”

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