Sherri Saum is an actress who really believes in the many relevant and timely messages that The Fosters brings to our television screen on a weekly basis. Her career in television began in the late ’90’s, but it wasn’t until she began seeing the impact that her role as Lena Adams Foster and the roles of her castmates were having on teens and families that she decided to take the plunge into social media. Where many in Hollywood find social media to be a necessary evil, Sherri has come to see it as a bright spot where she is able to reach out and hear from the audience about all the many ways that the show, her character, and the other characters on the show have been touching and changing lives.
As the show returns this evening to Freeform (the former ABCFamily), we were able to have a brief conversation with Sherri about where the story is picking up and what viewers might be able to expect going forward.
Which character do you think has had the biggest transformation so far?
“Oh boy. Um…that’s a tough one because everything is relative, but I think…I always just kind of hone in on Jude, little Jude. Sweet little Jude. You know, he’s just coming into his own. He’s been through so, so much in such a short period of time and now he’s fallen in love and he’s discovered his sexuality and it’s a huge transformation for him to go from the background that he came from. I’m just so proud that Jude has Stef and Lena and the family to help him through this. Because one thing I always think about is what if he was going through all this while he was being bounced around through all these foster homes? That’s a recipe right there, in my opinion, for all these tragedies that we hear about with young kids taking their own lives and, you know, falling into drugs, and what have you. They just don’t have that support during such an emotional, hormonal time. So I’m just happy that Jude has found his forever home so that he can be there for whatever may come.”
Absolutely. And, just to take a moment, as an adoptive parent who has two kids who very much relate to the characters and situations on this show, we LOVE the show. It has made a huge difference toward helping kids who have been in these scenarios to deal with some of these things.
“Yeah. It makes us so proud.”
It should! So, being such a ground-breaking show – and now with the shift from ABCFamily to Freeform – do you think you guys will be able to push boundaries even more?
“You know, I just know that the creators of the show and the cast as well, we just want to tell truthful stories. I don’t think it’s about shock factor or anything like that, although some people are shocked. I just hope that they continue to tell true stories, not with sensationalism or with anything exploitative, but really just tell the truth and tell how it is in an honest way so that we know that if people are shocked by that it’s not you. I just hope that we continue that tradition.”
Definitely. Real, true stories can be shocking.
“Yes. Absolutely true.”
So with Jesús back in the house and Callie officially a member of the family, does that mean that Lena and Stef won’t be trying for a baby again anytime soon?
“Uhh, you know, that’s tough. I mean, I think with kids in the house or kids not in the house it’s a tough decision. After losing a child like that I can’t imagine where you’d be emotionally, if you’d want to try again. I think that maybe it’s not completely off the table, but it’s definitely not where our focus is right now with Stef’s health problems and all the drama that continues to go on with the kids. I think that we have some diversion (chuckles) and could use a little time off from that line of thinking.”
Right. Speaking of diversions, when Stef and Lena find out about Brandon and Callie, how do you think they are going to react?
“Ai yi. It’s gonna be a really huge blow because, you know, they finally got what they’ve been after. The family is together. Everyone, you know, has their family back. It’s just gonna be one of these things. How do we move forward? How do we trust these kids in the house together? How do we know – it’s just gonna throw everything into chaos, I think. But you know what? They’re also really good kids and I think that we’re gonna trust that they appreciate the power of family and how much Callie needs that. How much they all need that. And hopefully that will carry us through.”
Yeah. They’re very realistic as far as their characters go. Being good kids who do not such smart things.
“Yeah. Pretty realistic, I think.”
It’s really interesting to see how differently Stef and Lena react. They really complement each other.
What is it about your character, and I guess Stef’s character as well, that you admire the most?
“Well, I guess I would say that I admire Stef’s strength. Lena is a strong woman but she’s a softy as well and I think it’s really important that we have a nice balance of hammer-fist and, you know, soft gloves. (chuckles).
It makes the family tick. You know, I always feel like everything is going to be fixed with a hug and sometimes you need a little tough love in the mix and Stef really provides that.”
Last question. How has being on The Fosters changed you, your life, and your perspective on the world?
“It’s just opened my eyes. You know, especially since, because of the show, I started using social media which I’d always thought no way in hell was I going to get into social media. But now I’m a part of it and it showed me just how many kids out there have been helped by the show, just how many kids out there need help, and I’m a really sensitive and maternal person but I think, especially since having my own children, I’m seeing these things. It’s just broadened my whole perspective and my love for kids and the power of love. It’s transformative.”