New York native Susan Kelechi Watson was already an established name when This Is Us came calling in 2016. As per IMDb, the actress made her onscreen debut in 2004, appearing in Hack and The Jury in quick succession before nabbing a recurring role in Third Watch. Bit parts in Medium, Private Practice, NCIS, Law & Order and lots more followed but it was playing the tender, elegant and unflinchingly loyal Beth Pearson that garnered Watson a worldwide following.
As a profile in Oprah magazine details, Beth is the quiet hero of the show, even though she doesn’t typically get involved with any of the major dramatic moments. The publication notes Watson bears passing similarities to her most famous character including the same lilting Brooklyn accent. However, she’s also “like the friendly but chill counterpart” to the “no-nonsense” Beth. By the actress’s own estimation, though, she and her This Is Us character have one major trait in common.
Susan Kelechi Watson's heritage is accurately represented onscreen through Beth
As Oprah mag notes, Watson is the child of Jamaican immigrant parents. Accurately representing her culture is hugely important to the actress, who told Ebony, “It’s no secret to Black people that we’re smart, that we have abilities.” She added, “We’re obviously very strong, powerful, resilient, inspirational, intelligent, phenomenally talented… I could go on and on about our culture.” Watson appreciates the positive representation on This Is Us, revealing she’s frequently consulted by the show’s writers’ room. “They don’t mind feedback,” Watson told MTV News. She explained, “They’ll come in and check with me about certain things about my culture because Beth is Jamaican and I’m Jamaican-American.”
As Watson told The Mary Sue, she takes the responsibility of sharing the richness of her culture with the world very seriously, especially since it’s still a relatively new concept on television. This extends to Beth’s natural hair, which Watson advised Oprah is important to get right so the character is fully authentic, noting, “As Black women, hair is such a big part of our lifestyle. That’s also why I make sure each style looks like something she could have done herself as a working mom and wife.” She may not be Beth, but Watson is adamant about making her characterization as real as possible.
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