EXCLUSIVE | 'This Is Us' star Eris Baker talks about Tess' mental health and self-acceptance journey in Season 5
Eris Baker, who plays the role of Tess Pearson — Randall and Beth's older daughter, sheds light on what the future has in store for her character in an exclusive interview with MEAWW
A little love and a lot of togetherness keeps 'This Is Us' going strong as the Pearson family grows. This season, the focus was entirely on The Big Three. In the finale, a lot many fresh faces were introduced and the flash-forward only hints towards more complex storylines surrounding the Pearson kids.
Eris Baker — who plays the role of Tess Pearson, Randall and Beth's older daughter — shed light on what the future has in store for her character, how she has helped diversify the LGBTQ+ representation and whether her character will find new love in Season 5.
Talking to MEA WorldWide (MEAWW) in an exclusive interview, Baker says she's happy to play the elder daughter: "Tess is the big sister and that definitely attracted me when I got the role. Now, her story has just gotten so complex and I'm honored to play her because she's become such a big role model for others."
Tess is a beacon of hope for LGBTQ representation. What was your reaction when you were told about it and how do you think has it influenced your fans?
With Tess, I was super honored to get this opportunity. I already knew that her character was going to be gay and that she was going to be a role model for others. So, I was super honored to pursue that storyline. I think that fans reacted positively and I'm super thankful for that because I wanted people to be inspired by Tess coming out with her real identity on television. And I wanted people who had been through it to find it relatable. I definitely think that the message and the purpose of that theme has been accomplished.
As 'This Is Us' explores more themes of identity, sexuality and mental health, how does it affect your character and what fans should look forward to in the future?
Mental health is a subject that needs to be addressed more specifically on television and I'm really happy that it's being talked about. Tess has anxiety and she gets it through her father but the good thing is that her parents picked up on it to get her help. And I think that it would translate well to people who can relate to it. I'm also very proud to see that mental health is being represented on television. I think that it has really influenced Tess a lot and she is becoming the focal point.
Will Tess's journey of self-acceptance be a big part of the next season, and will she find a love interest any time soon?
I honestly do not know what the writers have planned. But, I do hope that they still continue the story of self-acceptance because it is great for fans to see how important it is to always accept people for who they are. About getting a new love interest, that's also something I do not know. But, I do think that when you're young, you do have crushes so I wouldn't be surprised if there was someone as she is probably about 13 years old anyway.
What do you think Tess's partner should be like?
I think that Tess would want her partner to kind, be very sweet, someone who is very positive and always unapologetically themselves.
And the show also features a beautiful sisterly bond. How will Tess, Annie and Deja's relationship develop in the future?
They're already very close. And of course, Deja is also very close to us. In the future, I think she is going to get closer and I am happy about that. Their relationship in the future is going to get stronger.
The season finale was all about Kevin and Randall's big fight. According to Tess, who is in the right and who is in the wrong? What does she think about Randall's decision for his mom, Rebecca?
I think Tess is probably too young to understand the situation. But she does have a really close connection with her grandmother and I think that sending her away will probably break her heart. But it's also the best for her health, so I think she will understand.
How has the experience been on set with the cast until now? And tell us who you like hanging out with the most.
The experience on set with my amazing cast is always fun. We always have a great time working together, especially in scenes where it's all of us there. And I am usually always in a different space with my amazing sisters on the show. I always am in school with them on set and have lunch with them. So, it's just a wonderful time.
While there is no official confirmation on when the heartwarming show will return to NBC, it is speculated that Season 5 may roll out sometime this September.