Sherri Saum on Same Sex Couples, ‘The Fosters,’ and Social Issues

Sherri Saum cares deeply about the social-impacting storylines portrayed on her current television show, “The Fosters.” Saum stars as the kind Lena Adams Foster on the Freeform, formally ABC Family, hit which debuted in 2013. Unlike many teen-geared television shows, “The Fosters” prides itself on tackling difficult and emotional social issues, such as same sex couples and gun violence.

We caught up with Saum to discuss the unique premise of her show, what she is passionate about, and what she would tell her 25-year-old self.

“The Fosters” is a unique show in the the way it always deals with current issues society is facing. A recent episode touched on gun issues. Why is it important for you and the team behind “The Fosters” to tell those stories?

Our show prides itself on tackling the nitty gritty — what’s really going on in our culture. We would be ignoring the elephant if we left out issues like gun violence. And I’m really proud of how deftly the writers and producers handle it. They look at all sides, they present it in a real way, and in a way that profoundly affects these characters the fans have grown to care so much about.

“The Fosters” introduces younger viewers into the daily lives of a lesbian couple. How do you feel about being pioneers in television in regards to showing a different normal?

I couldn’t be more grateful to be part of a show that values inclusivity so deeply. I’ll be so relived when the “issue” of same sex couples on television won’t be any longer, but I am thrilled to be part of the class ushering in the change.

What episode is your favorite? What has been the hardest?

I get asked about favorites a lot but really it’s like choosing your favorite child. They are all special to me for one reason or another. I guess I’d have to say any episode I filmed early on in September, October 2013 while I was pregnant with twins was a little challenging. Just because of the nausea. The cast and crew couldn’t have been more supportive.

What is the best part of being involved with “The Fosters?”

The best part is really twofold — working on a show that is healing people, giving hope, and a warm embrace to those who need it. And of course, working with my on screen wife, the luminous Teri Polo.

In what ways do you connect with your character, Lena?

I connect with Lena’s heart and compassion. I’m so mushy — I really wish I could just mother the whole damn world sometimes.

What current social issues are you passionate about in your everyday life?

I’ve been awakened to the desperate state of our foster care system in the United States. It’s broken in many shocking and dangerous ways. I try to lend a hand or a voice to bring light to the situation whenever possible.

You have twins. Is it hard juggling their schedule and yours as a working mother? How do you make it work?

I guess I make it work the way any other mom/dad/caregiver makes it work.
Sometimes I can do it all, sometimes I fail, sometimes we spend all day at children’s science museums and I make whole grain angel hair pasta with organic grass fed ground beef. And sometimes we just eat cold pizza and watch Bernstein bears all day. We don’t really care if it’s messy. My husband and I zero in on the goal which is a stable and healthy home, bursting at the seams with love.

What’s something not many people know about you?

Not many people probably realize how goofy I can be. Oh wait, I’m on social media, I think that secret’s out of the bag by now.

What would you go back and tell your 25-year-old self?

I’d probably go back and ask my 25 year old self the advice! I dig my 25 year old self. She’s badass! I was risk taking, ambitious, and globetrotting. I like to think I’m pretty much that same person – but with kids I just worry so much more. I’m a work in progress as we all are.

To read our full interview with Sherri Saum, order Inspirer’s fall issue here!

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