Beth and Randall Pearson have become one of televisions most beloved couples on hit series This Is Us. And, with the addition of foster daughter Déjà, season two of the show has seen the couple grow in new ways.
Susan Kelechi Watson, who perfectly plays Beth opposite Sterling K. Brown, spoke to ESSENCE about what might possibly be ahead for the couple as the navigate the foster system. She also let us in on the one thing we’re all wondering: will Déjà become a permanent member of the family?
Take a look at our exclusive below:
Where did the idea for this storyline come from, where you [Beth] and Randall become foster parents?
I am not sure. I am not quite, if Dan [Fogelman] told us how it came about, but I know it was like his brainchild. Everybody thought that Randall was, obviously, on the adoption train and it was just another way to explore it without it being exactly that. They’re interested in about another baby, what is it like to bring up somebody who has a past already?
For me it was a really creative and interesting way for Beth to make a compromise so she would be able to still honor her husband and try to figure out a way to make what he wants to happen happen. But also her way of honoring William. She had a very unique relationship with him and it meant something to her to honor him as well. And, also for her not to have to start motherhood over again from scratch, per say, that she would still be able to pursue what she has a passion about while still caring for another child and still honoring William. So I just thought it was a really cool compromise, a really cool way of seeing it.
It’s interesting. It also brings up the challenge of—at some point Deja might not be there. What happens if she decides to live with her mom after she’s released?
Right, right, right. Which makes for even more of a dilemma, even more of an issue. It’s even more tension because it’s like, the child is not necessarily our own. You know what I mean? You’re called to take care of them, of her, in the same way. People throughout the United States are doing it and we have feedback from those people. but it’s not the easiest thing to open your home to a child and not know whether or not they are going to be there with you or what the circumstances are going to be. Not knowing the circumstances they’d been left in, which is why I love it. I love that it’s not easy. It’s not the easy choice.
What challenges lie ahead for you guys? Because now Beth and Randall are have to take Déjà to these court appointed visits to see her mother. They’re seeing how the foster and court systems work. What do you see ahead for them?
I love that they [showrunners] are showing our court system. I actually worked with an organization called Drama Club; that works with incarcerated teens and youth in a detention center and in Rikers Island, which a lot of people don’t know that teens have been incarcerated in Rikers Island. Teens are there, 16 to 21, not housed with adults, but a lot of them are there because their families aren’t able to post bail, so they’re there awaiting trial and all that kind of stuff and they are being incarcerated with adults.
Obviously there is a problem with the court system, the judicial system and things like that. Now, the show is giving some light to that. I like that you will see both sides of this. You will see Deja’s mom, Shawna’s side. You will see Randall’s side. You will see my [Beth’s] side. You will see Deja’s side. It’s not so clear cut.
What kind of relationship do you see your character and Randall having with Déjà’s mom?
I am not sure yet, but what I can say is that they will treat it more from the perspective of what is best for Deja. She has been abused, she has been in and out of foster homes, she has been neglected, and the show is going to operate from a place of, how can we help this child? That’s the perspective that Beth is coming from at this point. We can only see where things go from here.
Déjà is a part of the family now, but do fans need to be prepared in case she decides to leave once her mother is released from prison?
[Laughs] You know, I can’t tell you.