*At just 12 years old, Eris Baker (“Drunk History,’ “K.C. Undercover”) who stars on NBC’s “This Is Us,” has already received a SAG Award for her work on the series, as she and the cast recently won the 2018 SAG Award for “Best Ensemble in a Drama Series.”
The Los Angeles native plays Tess Pearson, the eldest daughter of Randall (Sterling K. Brown) and Beth Pearson (Susan Kelechi Watson) on the hit drama series, which has been nominated and won dozens of awards including: 11 Emmy nominations including the coveted Outstanding Drama Series (2017), 2017 Golden Globe Award for Best Television Series – Drama (nomination), 2016 Critics’ Choice TV Award for Most Exciting New Series (won), and 2017 AFI Awards TV Program of the Year (won).
“This Is Us” debuted to record-breaking numbers, earning the series an immediate two-season renewal. When season two premiered last September, the story continued to follow the Pearson family as they dealt with the death of Randall’s biological father and the challenges of adoption. The finale left viewers with a Season 3 mystery to solve, offering a glimpse into the future of the Pearson family once again.
EUR/Electronic Urban Report caught up with little Ms. Baker to get the scoop on what’s to come for the Pearson family and how she’s proud that the “voice” of the series is helping to spread awareness and spark dialogue.
Read our conversation below.
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Before we get started, I must say that I love your name. Is there a special meaning behind it?
EB: My parents called me Eris because my dad’s name is Eric. So, it’s a family name.
What have the past two years been like for you, experiencing the amazing rise of “This Is Us?”
EB: It has been really incredible! Even though I’m on the cast, when I’m watching the episodes, I feel like I’m watching as a viewer, not just someone that’s a part of the show since it’s so realistic. I feel like anyone can relate to the show.
There are so many emotions that come with it when you’re watching. One thing I have in common is that I lost my grandfather. I didn’t really know him when I was young. So, just like Tess and Annie lost their grandfather on the show, I lost mine. So I can relate to those feelings.
“This Is Us” deals with a lot of serious topics. Is any of it ever difficult to handle as a 12-year-old?
EB: Honestly, I feel like it’s hard to watch sometimes because the show is so real and people are actually going through tough drug and alcohol addictions. It brings tears to my eyes knowing that people are actually going through this. It’s so sad to imagine what they’re going through. I do love that This Is Us is bringing awareness to all of those problems and has a voice in that conversation. It’s something I’m really proud to be a part of.
This show manages to keep the conversation going long after the episode ends. Do your parents talk to you about some of these serious topics that may be a little too heavy for you?
EB: Most definitely because when I started watching, since season one, I was really really young. I’m still young now, but I didn’t really know about any of these topics, so my parents really had to explain to me what everything was, just because I was on the show and I needed to watch it and fully understand the storyline. My parents have brought light to those situations and I try to bring awareness to it as much as I can. If people actually have genuine conversations about it daily, maybe these situations can change.
What have you enjoyed most about exploring the world of your character Tess Pearson?
EB: Probably her relationship with Randall. I love their scenes together. That one scene from the Super Bowl episode, when Randall said, ‘You’re my #1.’ That was crazy because my dad always says, ‘You’re my #1, baby!’ I just love that.
Another connection that I love about Tess and her evolving character is with her sisters and her mom. Tess and I are similar because Tess also has sisters, both Annie and Deja. And in real life, I have three little sisters. So I feel like playing the role of Tess is actually quite easier for me because I actually have sisters in real life. I’m already used to being a sister and having that sister-love relationship with kids.
This season ended leaving fans speculating about a conversation between older Randall and older Tess. What can you tease viewers with what’s to come?
EB: Tess is evolving and I’m really happy about that. So you guys have to keep watching because in season 3, you’re going to finally see everything unfold in her story.
Knowing what you know about what’s to come for the Pearson family, if Tess was your best friend in real life, what kind of advice would you give her?
EB: Stay strong, because Tess has been through a lot. Dealing with her grandfather dying and how she is feeling replaced by Deja. So, I would probably say, stay strong because life has a lot of ups and downs and even though it seems like it has more downs, you always have to stay strong and make sure you understand that people are there for you. Your family is there for you and you have to keep your family close. That’s probably the advise I would give her.
Speaking of family, what’s your family life like? Do your parents talk to you about boundaries, considering all the challenges that kid actors have to deal with?
EB: My family is everything. I love my family. They’re definitely like, my squad. They talk to me all the time about this show and they talk to me about all those situations that we just talked about and they definitely talk to me about how to make my character better.
They also talk me through school life. As a child actor, it’s kind of hard because there’s homeschooling or public school. They’re definitely always there with me for that, ‘cause I’m actually public schooled and it’s a lot to handle since I’m on set a lot and doing other projects. I still have to go to school, so they definitely help me with that. So yes, they have a huge impact on me and my sisters’ life. I love them so much.
At the press conference after winning the SAG Award, you gave the cutest speech and addressed young girls to never give up on their dreams. In what ways do you intend you use your voice to encourage girls to unleash their full potential?
EB: Girls in general always put themselves down and think that they’re not good enough or they think that they can’t do this or that and think that they’re not pretty and that kills me because I want them to know that you’re beautiful — created by God and you need to know to keep God in your heart because you’re probably like, the most beautiful thing that has ever been created.
You are a girl…you are strong. When you become older, you’re going to be a powerful woman. So I definitely want girls to know that they always have to be themselves and they can’t put themselves down. To be a young actor in Hollywood, I have a voice that I want to use because a lot of girls look up to me, a lot of girls DM me on Instagram and they’re like, ‘Wow, I wish I could be you.’ But I’m like, ‘No. you don’t want to be me. You want to be yourself. You are amazing. You have to know that.’ Every girl is amazing and as girls, I feel like we should always stick together. We shouldn’t be putting ourselves down. I want girls to know that they are important and that they have a voice and be unapologetically yourself.
You can next catch Eris Baker in the new Netflix comedy series “Alexa and Katie,” and follow her on Instagram for the latest news about the various projects she currently has in the works.