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‘Atlanta’ Star Brian Tyree Henry Talks Standing Out With Fashion Choices

Despite his growing fame as a rapper, “Atlanta” character Alfred “Paper Boi” Miles — portrayed by second-time Emmy nominee
Brian Tyree Henry — maintains a modest wardrobe. “In essence he’s a trap boy — he’s a drug dealer — so he’s not really concerned about labels,” Henry says. “Because anything too gaudy, too flashy, draws attention.” But Henry himself thrives on standing out. “I’m not afraid of accessories, I’m not afraid of color, I’m not afraid of going on different journeys with each outfit. It’s not all about the money and about the price tags, it’s just about how it makes me feel in life.”

When FX newcomer “Atlanta” contended at the Golden Globes for comedy series, Henry knew he wanted to wear a tux, but he also knew he wanted it to have flair. Stylist Naz Meknat helped him find this Strong Suit velvet jacket, which he chose to wear despite the heat. Though he normally jokes with his castmates about outfit plans, they hadn’t conferred. “If you put all of our looks together, me, Donald [Glover], [La]keith [Stanfield] and Zazie [Beetz], all of our outfits had velvet in it!” he says. “I was like, ‘If y’all don’t know that we’re kindred after this, I don’t know what to tell you!’”

“Sterling [K. Brown] is my best friend … and I was very proud of us that year,” says Henry, who received an Emmy nom, alongside “This Is Us” star Brown, for his guest role on the NBC drama. “It was just a testament to what he had always told me, that if I put my heart in it, people will have no choice but to recognize the work that I do.” As “Atlanta” also scored noms, Henry wanted his look to convey this duality. “I wanted to make it like a reverse tux,” he says of his Suitsupply look. “So I wanted everything to be black and then the outside to be white. Because I wasn’t just representing for my show, I was representing for my best friend’s show as well.”

After wrapping the second season of “Atlanta” and several upcoming films, Henry returned to his theater roots. But the former cast member of “The Book of Mormon” didn’t expect to receive a Tony nomination for his work in the play “Lobby Hero,” in which he starred opposite Chris Evans, Michael Cera and Bel Powley. “This was my first time at the Tonys … and there’s something about the color turquoise that really represents that for me,” he says. “Kind of like a birth, a rebirth, an emergence of some sort.” Vogue editor Anna Wintour helped introduce him to Nordstrom, which outfitted him with this Armani jacket in the exact color he’d envisioned.

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