Susan Kelechi Watson Interview: ‘This Is Us’
Susan Kelechi Watson has been one of the clutch players on NBC’s “This Is Us” for four seasons in her role as Beth Pearson, wife of Randall (Sterling K. Brown). She finally received individual recognition for her work earlier this year with a nomination from the Critics’ Choice Awards, following two consecutive ensemble wins at the SAG Awards. “I’m so excited when we’re recognized individually,” Watson says in an exclusive new interview for Gold Derby. “There’s something really beautiful in the nomination and who you get to share that nominated space with. That’s something in and of itself which is like a win.” Watch the exclusive video interview above.
This season on “This Is Us” found Beth in a less volatile place than Season 3 but still managing all the pressures of being a mother to three kids, being a wife to Randall and also following her dreams of opening up a dance studio. One particular episode saw Beth’s mother, Carol (Phylicia Rashad), coming back into her life to see her dance studio and grappling with their fraught relationship again. This was not helped by a dead animal stinking up the studio and causing all kinds of problems. “You always turn into a little kid when you get around your folks,” explains Watson, “so for her, it was a time of trying to prove herself and as each thing went wrong, the blood pressure goes up.” The lesson Beth had to learn through that episode is, as Watson puts it, “Regardless I just have to let it go and really pursue my dream and what I love and what I want.”
One of the bigger moments in Season 4 involved Beth encouraging Randall to seek therapy. Randall’s stubbornness made this a bit more of a fight than Beth would have liked but he ultimately did go. Watson notes that in the Black community, getting therapy a taboo subject and it is rare to see a Black man in treatment. It’s also rare to acknowledge the partner of the person who needs that therapy, to address their needs too, which the show does with Beth. “I feel like her encouraging him to go to therapy is her way of enforcing the fact that from now on, we share the load,” observes Watson. “I’m not gonna keep this a secret, I’m not gonna stay quiet about this stuff. It’s just as hard on me as it is on you.”
In those scenes where Beth is advising Randall or intentionally not getting involved in family conflicts between the Big Three, Watson feels she gets to be “the voice of the audience on the sideline.” She also doesn’t want to ever get too comfortable playing Beth and is often figuring out new dynamics to her character and how she relates to others. “There needs to always be something fresh and that’s absolutely my responsibility in terms of my character and what I’m bringing. It’s one that I gladly take on. “