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Interview: Sherri Saum

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Every once in a while a show comes along that not only entertains you, but makes a statement. A show that combines all the elements of a great television series, but at the same time tackles issues and subjects that are not only important, but relevant. ABC Family has such a show on its network, The Fosters.

Currently in its second season, the show has become a favorite with not only fans and critics, but has also become an important beacon for race relations, the LGBT community and has also changed our idea of what a “family” is today. The series will be airing its Christmas episode on Monday, December 8th 8/7c. One of the reasons the show is such a success is the work of actress Sherri Saum who plays Lena Adams Foster.

We sit down to talk with the talented actress about the importance of the series, how having twins has changed the way she sees her character and the show and what the fans mean to her, the cast and crew.

Pop Culture Principle – Has the birth of your twins changed the way you look at the show and your character?

Sherri Saum – I think anytime you have kids, especially when you are doing a show where you have kids as well, it just deepens your investment and deepens your understanding of what it means to sacrifice. You do things without even thinking about it if you know it’s going to benefit your child. It’s not a question anymore, so I understand that in a new way for sure.

Pop Culture Principle – Your character Lena suffers a miscarriage on the show. Was that storyline more difficult for you knowing that in real life you were about to give birth?

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Sherri Saum – It was to a degree, but mainly because of how exhausting it was to shoot. I am pretty good at separating fiction from reality. It is such a supportive cast and we laugh so much as soon as they call cut. We keep it light when we have down time on the set. I was in that episode pretty much every frame and I was also really tired in real life. I am pretty good at separating the world when I need to.

Pop Culture Principle – The glue to The Fosters is obviously the relationship between you and Teri Polo. If that relationship isn’t believable, the show doesn’t’ work. You two have such chemistry on screen. What is it like working with Teri?

Sherri Saum – It is a blessing. We just laugh non-stop day and night and she’s hilarious. She keeps everyone’s moral up and I just can’t say enough good things about her. She’s such a goof off, but a consummate professional at the same time. I learn so much from her and we just love each other.

Pop Culture Principle – The Fosters can be an emotionally draining show. Is it easy for you to shake that off once you are done shooting and off set?

Sherri Saum – Sometimes it takes a while. There have been times when I am driving home, before I go in the house I have to walk around the block a few times and decompress. It’s a lot, but a lot in a good way. Each one of the actors pours themselves into their roles because we love the show. We want to give our all for the fans, give our all for ourselves and it can be a lot. You invest so much emotionally and it also takes a physical toll as well.

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Pop Culture Principle – With The Fosters representing the LGBT community, do you feel responsible and protective of your characters and the show?

Sherri Saum – To be honest, I didn’t start out feeling that way. We all just approached our roles as we do any role. Just give your all and try to portray your character as authentically as possible. All the attention and the embracing we’ve had from the LGBT community, it’s not really putting pressure on us, but it’s inspiring us to really represent the most honest way we can and I hope that we are doing that.

Pop Culture Principle – Lena decides to quit her job as vice principal. We see that starts to cause a bit of an issue between Lena and Stef? How will that affect their relationship and will it be explored more once the season continues?

Sherri Saum - Lena's decision to quit her job definitely causes tension in the relationship – let's just say that going forward Lena has to act fast in order to repair the rift.

Pop Culture Principle – Would you consider The Fosters to be groundbreaking?

Sherri Saum - I know that the Foster's is definitely groundbreaking in many ways, but I don't think any of us ever dwell on that – or let it get to our heads – it just feels very relevant and very real time. Families like The Fosters exist everywhere but just aren't portrayed in a grounded way on television.

Pop Culture Principle – How does it make you feel as an actor and a person knowing that many of the fans look to you and Teri Polo as role models?

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Sherri Saum - I'm extremely honored if there are young women out there who look up to Teri and me –this show has become so much more than I ever anticipated, I read every single piece of fan mail that makes it into my hands, and it really moves me that someone picked up a pen and paper to tell me how much The Fosters means to them.

Pop Culture Principle – The show has its holiday episode coming up shortly. Is it easy to get into the Christmas period when you shot the show in August?

Sherri Saum - It was pretty easy to get into the Christmas spirit even though we were filming in August – our set designers are absolute magicians and they brought the sets to life with the most incredible display of Christmas joy ever seen by the human eye.

Pop Culture Principle – How important has social media been to the success of The Fosters?

Sherri Saum - Television shows pretty much live and die by social media, and The Fosters is no exception – we have incredible fans on Twitter and Facebook and it keeps the passion and excitement alive even when we are on hiatus. And even though I've always been reluctant to have anything to do with social media, I have to say I find it so much fun.

Pop Culture Principle – What can fans look forward to for the rest of the season?

Sherri Saum - All I can say about the coming season is that it only gets better. Every time we get a new script I'm astonished by how good it is, I always wonder how they will top themselves, but they always do!

We would like to thank Sherri taking time from her shooting schedule to talk with us. If you would like to keep up with all Sherri's latest news and information, you can follow her on Twitter @SherriSaum1. Again, The Fosters Christmas episode airs Monday, December 8th 8/7c.

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