On February 28, 2024, Farmingdale State College (FSC) welcomed members of its campus community to A Conversation with Giancarlo Esposito, an hour-long, "fireside chat" style event held in the Campus Center Ballroom as part of its Black History Month celebration.  

At the packed evening event, Esposito, a celebrated television, film, and stage actor, director, and producer with a career spanning nearly five decades, sat down with Stuart Oates, ’24, an art and graphic design major, who serves as FSC unit president for the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) and secretary of FSC’s Afro-Caribbean Club.  

“FSC concluded its celebration of Black History Month in stellar fashion,” said Frank Rampello, FSC student advocate. “Attendees walked away with a few life lessons, fun insider tales from behind the camera, and a fresh outlook toward building a more inclusive perspective. FSC students deserve the best--and the Office of the Dean of Students and the entire Division of Student Engagement are proud to provide marquee memories through unique events like these.” 

“His journey as an artist navigating industry hurdles, while breaking out beyond a working actor, is a story unto itself,” said Oates. “Mr. Esposito redefines success and encourages all to identify what they love to do--start here and go places.” 

Esposito began the event with his fond memories growing up in the 1960s “partly on the streets and partly on the stage” in an “edgy and rough, and filled with culture and light” New York City as a young Broadway performer. “I cut my teeth there,” he said. 

Now an award-winning artist, Esposito noted that his early acting influences included Edmond O'Brien, James Randolph, and his idol, Sidney Poitier, and emphasized the importance of being invested in the here and now, listening with one’s “whole spirit,” and setting intentions. 

“I tell folks, if you ask for what you want in your life you are then inviting it,” he said. “And words are really important. So, choose your words wisely because they are--or can be--an invitation, and are setting the table for what you want to get out of your life.” 

Working his way through the entertainment industry, Esposito described the discrimination he faced and detailed a commercial audition where he was turned away because of his skin color, and “left feeling less than enough.”  

“The trauma of being in this skin has chased me my whole life. And so, that’s real. And it’s hard to describe what that trauma is to someone who has not experienced it,” he said.  

“So, it’s up to everyone in this room to start to realize that if you’ve had that moment, that awkward moment, that you need to teach how to get out of that,” he added. “Be compassionate for people who don’t know, and show them how to know, and open up their brain and consciousness in a different way that allows them to see differently from what they learned.” 

“I really appreciate your talking about the importance of intentional, necessary even if its uncomfortable, conversations for the sake of us as a whole, so thank you for that,” said Oates. 

Esposito also revealed details about his experiences working on hit television shows, “Breaking Bad,” “The Mandalorian,” and “The Boys,” including his thoughts on his artistic process, his costars and stunt doubles, a beautiful, gray, Paul Smith coat he still has from the set of “Breaking Bad,” and the six lightsabers he broke while filming the climatic second season finale of “The Mandalorian.” 

“I like to play characters that control the chaos,” said Esposito, who “does all my own stunts.” 

Throughout the conversation, Esposito encouraged FSC students to “be proud of who you are and your heritage, and champion it,” embrace change, feel empowered to ask questions, and advised what FSC students can do in their own lives to build the future they want to see. 

“If, in your life, you don’t feel this level of passion that’s being exhibited to you tonight, if you don’t feel a kernel of that passion in your own life, then find a way to connect with it,” he said. 

“I am, I will, I can,” he added. “All you have to do is show up, with all of your being, be present, listen, be a collaborator, take criticism. Don’t take it personally. It may feel that way, but don’t take it personally. Enlist collaborators, enlist all the help you need to get where you know you belong. Create your intention every day that you live, and all will come to you.” 

View more photos from A Conversation with Giancarlo Esposito on our Flickr Gallery