Cierra Ramirez, who plays Mariana on The Fosters, has had a number of recognizable opportunities in her time on the screen. She’s had roles in Desperate Housewives, The Suite Life of Zack and Cody, The Secret Life of the American Teenager, and now her role on The Fosters. Born in Houston, Texas, she’s been acting since she was 10 or 11 years old.
Joining Cierra for an interview with us about the upcoming fourth season of The Fosters, a groundbreaking show about a loving lesbian couple raising their five children – one biological and two pairs of adopted siblings – is one of the show’s creators, Bradley Bredeweg.
Keep reading to see what they had to say about themselves, the show, and the new episodes we’ll soon be seeing!
Bradley, where did you even come up with the idea [for the show] and how did it come to be?
Bradley: “Oh wow! God, I haven’t talked about that in a while and I love that I get to talk about it again. (laughs). Well, look, Peter and I have been writing together for a couple of years and we were doing a rather good job of doing pilots that never got made, and then finally we were like, ‘Ya know what? We are gonna write something that we are passionate about. We are gonna stop writing what we think the industry wants us to write and we are just gonna write something that we love and are passionate about. Because it just felt like the right time to do that.’ And so we started to look at the landscape, and he and I are both just huge fans of family dramas and it felt like those had started to disappear from our television sets. There were just a few kind of left lingering here and there.
And we started to talk about what and, you know, who we were. And we’re two gay men. And, you know, we have dreams of building families ourselves. But then we started to talk about moms and how do two moms come together and build a family and we suddenly realized that we’ve never seen that before on television. We’ve never seen that relationship in particular center or ground a show before and we just fell in love with the idea of telling a story about two moms who build a family within the foster care system, adopting children, and perhaps one of them did or does have a biological child, and then suddenly we felt like we had a show, and we just jumped in and started writing and exploring and, you know, I’m glad we did.”
That’s amazing. I actually used to work for the foster care system and they very much promoted the show. They were trying to get all their social workers to watch and were using it as a learning tool for their workers.
Bradley: “That’s incredible.”
Cierra, you are my daughter’s favorite character.
Cierra: “Aww! Am I?”
Yes, she loves all the dancing and the fashion. One thing she wanted me to ask you is if Miss Thang is your real nickname?
Cierra: “(laughs). Well, actually, it’s really funny. It actually was created by Teri Polo [who plays Stef Adams Foster], none other than Teri Polo. On the pilot episode she kind of ad-libbed that. She called me Miss Thang and it stuck ever since. You know, Mariana and I are just kind of sassy beings so it kind of played well for both of us. I loved that she called me that. Miss Thang. It has a nice ring to it.”
Also, it’s your twitter now, too.
Cierra: “Oh yeah! I even personalized a jacket. I’ve gone all out.”
Great! So you said that you and Mariana are both really sassy like that. Is there anything else that you and Mariana have in common?
Cierra: “I think she’s very fashionable. I love fashion. I’m very girly like she is as well. But, even though I’m 21 and she’s 16, she’s making a lot of mistakes and I feel like I am, too, and I’m learning from them and I learn from her every day. I think she’s a great role model and I love having the opportunity to play her. She’s always keeping me on my toes.”
Bradley: “And I just want to say really quickly, Cierra, Mariana is one of my favorite characters, too. And Cierra and Mariana are both really powerful young women. And I think they are both really important characters – I mean, Cierra’s not a character, obviously – a really important person in our lives. But Mariana is a feminist. You know what I mean. And I love that we get to explore those stories with Mariana because Cierra is such a strong young woman. Those two just naturally found each other for a reason.”
Definitely! So, Bradley, what kind of research do you do to make sure that the show is as realistic as possible with the scenarios that you bring in?
Bradley: “It’s such an important part of our process here in the writers room. We’re always doing research. We’re always going on Google. We’re always calling upon people within the foster care system and the legal system. We have a lot of supporters out there in the world that like to share information with us and to keep us on track, so anytime we can do that or if there’s anywhere we can call upon, we always make sure we can back ourselves up with that kind of information because it really is important to us. Especially when you’re dealing with something so delicate as the foster care system.”
Right. Absolutely. Cierra, how is it to have somebody completely different playing your brother now?
Cierra: “I was pretty excited to see how it was going to turn out, but it’s been the best experience ever. I think that he took on Jesus from the get go and he did it so well. I love working with him. I think that the character is more textured now than ever and I’m really excited to see all the shenanigans that those two get into, because I think we were definitely missing that dynamic. She missed her twin. The telepathy wasn’t there.
And it’s really exciting to kind of see their roles reversed. She kinda was the one interested in knowing their background and that’s kind of introduced Anna, and so for him to be kind of into the idea of finding out about who their birth dad is, what that means to him, it’s really exciting to see all of that come into play and I’m really excited that they are both back in action together.”
Bradley: “And Noah’s Jesus, for us, is the Jesus that we sort of always imagined, and now we can tell important, intricate story lines on Noah [who now plays Jesus] and on the twins in particular. So we’re just so grateful that he’s a part of our family now.”
Definitely. One more question for each of you. Is there anything that you, Cierra, would like to see your character do or face that she hasn’t yet? And, Bradley, are there any things that you would like to do with the show that you haven’t had the chance to do yet?
Cierra: “That’s a great question. You know, I always get these scripts, and I feel like we’ve talked about everything. What else can we talk about? And then I get so surprised because they just go on and on, and it amazes me how they can never run out of subjects and topics that are, you know? One thing that really drew me to this project in general was that it’s touching topics that are so common and yet aren’t represented on TV. It just amazes me how much they can get Mariana into as well. You know? She’s been on the dance team, she’s done coding, she ran for class president, and now she’s Juliet. So, I feel like at this point there’s nothing that can stop Mariana, and there’s nothing that she won’t get her hands on. So, for me, I would say that’s a really hard question. I’ll have to think about that. But I’m really excited to see what she gets herself into for season four.”
Bradley: “She gets herself into a lot, I’ll tell you that right now. Um, and for me, this was obviously a dream come true. This episode in particular [Romeo + Juliet]. So I’m just proud that we were able to accomplish something like this, something so massive, in such a short amount of time. And then, you know, I will say there’s a new story that we’re breaking for Callie, a new person comes into her life in season four, and it’s really reunited the writers from over here. It’s a very special story that we really look forward to exploring. I think it’s a character that you’ve never really seen on television, especially coupled with Callie, and we’re really excited about delivering that to everyone this summer.”
Yeah? Wow! I’m really curious now. Can’t wait!
Bradley: “Good! I can’t wait for you to see it!”
See The Fosters’ version of Romeo + Juliet TONIGHT at 8pm ET/PT on Freeform.