Susan Kelechi Watson rounds out the main cast for NBC‘s This Is Us, the network’s hit freshman series about the Pearson family. Watson, who was previously known for starring as Louis C.K.’s ex-wife in Louie, stars as Beth, the wife of Sterling K. Brown‘s character Randall.
Beth has had to support her husband’s wishes to find his biological father, William (Ron Cephas Jones). In “The Best Washing Machine in the World,” William accidentally told Beth a secret that could crush him. William met his adoptive mother, Rebecca (Mandy Moore), shortly after he was born. It looks like Randall will find out over Thanksgiving dinner in the November 22 episode, “Pilgrim Rick.”
Here’s a look at Watson’s role and her career.
1. Watson Thinks Beth Is Going to Get a New Job & Teases ‘Complicated’ Family Dynamics
At the moment, Beth is a stay-at-home mom, caring for the couple’s two young daughters. However, in a new interview with MovieFone, Watson said that Beth’s desire to go back to work will play a major role in her relationship with Randall.
“I think, right now, she’s trying to tiptoe out the door,” Watson explained. “She has her own startup. We’ll find out more about that. She’s trying to get that off the ground, and would really love to be full throttle into that. So we’ll see how she begins to do that and begins to shift her sort of dual home life/work life into more of a work life.”
As for the family dynamic at Randall’s home, it is “complicated,” since William began living at their home. If it wasn’t, This Is Us wouldn’t be great television.
“I would say that Beth and William begin to get deeper involved in their relationship,” Watson said. “I think that there are some things that will unfold that Beth will take some issue with, so they’ll have to figure that out. So the dynamic -– it’s sort of like we think things are finally getting sort of peaceful, and people are kind of figuring it out, and then there’s another turn and something happens.”
We’ve already seen their relationship take another leap when William accidentally revealed that he knows Rebecca.
2. Watson Says She & Sterling K. Brown Have Great Chemistry Because They Came From the Same Training Background
We’re seven episodes into This Is Us and the chemistry between the cast is evident in every scene. They are so good together that it’s easy to believe that they are a family. This is especially the case between Randall and Beth. You believe that they are truly a married couple. Of course, they aren’t really. Brown is married to Ryan Michelle Bathe, who we have seen in two episodes of This Is Us. Watson is not married yet.
In an interview with Entertainment Tonight, Watson said that the two have the same training background, which is why she’s so comfortable acting with Brown.
“…I just trust him and I believe that he trusts me as well,” she explained. “We get into the scene and we’re just in it. I don’t even really know how to explain it. We just both understand the circumstances of it and we’re both in loving relationships. So I think we understand the context of that and be in that. We’re growing to understand our characters more and more, and at the base level of this couple is trust and love.”
She added that, “…Marriage on TV these days can get a bum rap. I’m not married yet, but I’m looking forward to being [married] one day so it’s nice to put out there what I want in my own marriage.”
3. Watson Shot to Fame as Janet on Louis C.K.’s FX Series ‘Louie’
Although Watson has credits dating back to 2004, including a recurring role in Third Watch from 2004 to 2005, she really became a star in 2012. That year, comedian Louis C.K. cast him as Janet, his ex-wife. The role was a little odd, since both of C.K.’s daughters in the series were depicted as white. That even confused Watson.
She told Essence in 2012 that she had seen the show before auditioning and didn’t think Janet would be the comedian’s ex-wife, since both daughters were white. She thought the role would be a friend.
“After I got the role I was still thinking it can’t be to play his ex-wife, maybe his friend, but not the ex-wife. I just thought it was hilarious, and that Louis [C.K.] was kind of brilliant for casting it that way,” she said.
Watson has also picked up roles in Royal Pains, The Following and The Blacklist since Louie. She also had a part in the short-lived CBS series Golden Boy.
4. Watson Trained to be a Theater Actress & Graduated From Howard University
Like her co-star, Sterling K. Brown, Watson’s first love as an actor was theater. Her AboutTheArtists.com profile lists productions of Marley, Core Values, A Raisin In The Sun and The Story. In 2005, she played in A Naked Girl on the Appian Way for the Roundabout Theatre Company on Broadway.
In her Essence interview, she said that she has been able to do more theater since moving to New York.
“I loved Los Angeles, but I’ve found New York to be successful for me,” she said. “I don’t know that I constantly think about being a Black woman. There’s a ton of things we could say about how many opportunities are there, and the quality of opportunities out there.”
Watson is a graduate of Howard University’s School of Fine Arts in Washington, D.C. Both of her parents are Jamaican and she also trained as dancer.
5. What She Really Loves About ‘This Is Us’ Is its Non-Linear Structure
What makes This Is Us unique is its non-linear structure. Each episode of the series has scenes in the past, present and even future (specifically the one scene that showed Randall after William’s death). Sure, this is common for genre shows like Lost, but not a family drama.
Watson told Ebony that that this is one of the show’s traits that she really loves. “You’re able to see more of what took them from A to B, and how they got to this place at this moment in time,” she said.
In that same interview, she shared her thoughts on what the show, which was created by Dan Fogelman, means.
“For me it’s a life lesson on judgment, because you don’t know where people come from or what they’ve been through that’s bringing them to this place and their perspective on life at this moment,” she told Ebony. “This show really gives people the opportunity to see beyond the person at this moment in time. They can see into everything that’s made them who they are.”