Per Matt
Ever since I was young, whenever an actor made a strong contribution to my favorite genres — science fiction and horror — I’d actively follow him or her into just about every new project they’d consequentially take on (within specific limits). This was my version of creating a fan favorite. Sometimes they’d surprise me with their range, opening my eyes to a new storytelling format. Other times I’d simply be bored — this was WAY before IMDB was accessible — and I’d still eagerly await the next outing. As I followed these actors for all these years, I built a varied library of filmmakers who I still enjoy watching to this day.

Colman Domingo is one such entry on this list.

Originally catching my attention on Season 1 of Fear the Walking Dead, Domingo didn’t initially carry any baggage. Appearing in the sister series of Robert Kirkman’s ratings-bonanza mothership, this spinoff franchise depicted the early days of the dead rising. In the storyline, Domingo’s character, Victor Strand, portrayed a me-first “fixer” whose cloudy morality often came into question as he was tasked to do the unthinkable, time and time again. In the series’ early episodes, he teams with the protagonists in order to survive, but in later seasons, after his decisions constantly conflict with the rest of his group, he’d venture out onto his own… even briefly becoming the show’s antagonist, showcasing the actor’s versatility.

Outside The Walking Dead Universe, Domingo has appeared in and directed Off-Broadway plays (which led him to directing multiple Fear episodes, airing during Season 4, 5 and 6). Civil rights are important topics for the actor, as the topic is highlighted in 42, The Butler and Selma. His appearance in Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom received critical acclaim and the actor received an Emmy Award for his guest role in Euphoria.

All of this leads us to his 2023 role of a lifetime, starring in the Netflix feature film, Rustin. 

In George C. Wolfe’s biopic, political activist/organizer Bayard Rustin (played by Domingo) fights racism and homophobia to make history. As the senior advisor of the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr., he almost singlehandedly organizes the largest peaceful protest of the nation. Initially planning 100,000 “angelic troublemakers” to descend onto the National Mall of Washington D.C., this grassroots operation becomes a nationalized movement, as more than 200,000 minorities march toward freedom.

“Just because you’re smart about some things doesn’t mean you’re smart about everything.”

The real-life Bayard Rustin preached nonviolent passive resistance. Ambitious, full of dreams and always speaking his mind (especially whenever it could get him into trouble), he was a true underdog. A complicated man with a haunted past, Domingo’s actions accentuate his inspirational role as the character bears his soul.

The spotlight shines brightly on this complicated, extraordinary man. He’s emotionally powerful and encouraging as a leader, despite some previous personal missteps. The critical reception and the accolades have followed Domingo’s performance, which are well deserved, including nominations for Best Actor (Critics Choice Awards), Best Leading Actor (BAFTA Film Awards) and Best Performance by an Actor in a Leading Role (Academy Awards).

While I never would have expected any of this coming from an ensemble actor within a sci-fi horror TV show that aired on basic cable, I’m incredibly pleased with Domingo’s performance in Rustin — which I enjoyed — but I have really enjoyed watching the man grow as an actor with each new project. Be on the lookout for his future appearances in Sing SingDrive-Away Dolls, the upcoming Michael Jackson biopic and a Nat King Cole biopic, as well as the previously mentioned awards shows.

With prominent big-screen, stage and streaming roles, Colman Domingo has definitely left a positive mark with me. I will continue following the filmmaker’s path, as it’s been an enjoyable and unexpected experience so far, only promising to get better.

“This new generation is restless… and angry.”