Actress Sherri Saum plays Lena Adams Foster, one half of the dynamic lesbian mom duo on the hit ABC Family show, The Fosters. It’s been quite a year for the fictional family, and quite a year for Saum herself. She took time out of her hectic schedule (she recently gave birth to twin boys) to chat with AfterEllen about this season of The Fosters and new mommyhood.
AfterEllen: The last time we spoke, you were very close to giving birth to your twin sons. Now they are finally here so a very big congrats to your and your husband (Kamar de los Reyes Rodriguez). How is life with twins, I mean besides Jesus and Marianna?
Sherri Saum: [laughs] It’s good you know. It’s chaotic but it’s like a beautiful circus. We have some help which is really, really important. We’re making it happen. It kind of takes a village sometimes, but we are getting on a roll and finding our groove. It’s really fun.
AE: Has motherhood changed your perspective on how you approach the show and your character?
SS: I just have a new profound respect for the sacrifices that you make as a parent, and your motivation to make those sacrifices. It’s not even a questions; your kid comes first. I knew that on an intellectual basis, but I know that now really deeply. I think my protective instinct is going to be stronger. Anything that threatens my children on the show, I’m going to feel that so much more deeply and have that fierce mama tiger thing to the nth degree now.
AE: I hear all the time on Twitter and social media that Lena is the kind of mom that people wish they had, or want to be someday. How does that make you feel?
SS: Ahh, that just gave me chills right there when you just said that. It’s nice to hear that because I’ve always been maternal person. I just love really deeply. I want to see people reach their highest potential, and I want to give people the confidence and self-esteem to do that. I feel like I innately know how to do that. It’s nice that people feel that from me, because that’s what I feel. I feel like a natural kind of mom.
AE: Speaking of moms, after Lena suffers a tragic miscarriage, her mother (played by the remarkable Lorraine Toussaint) comes to her side. I think it was one of the most powerful scenes of the entire series. What was it like to work with Lorraine on that scene, especially considering what a wrenching story that is for any parent or parent to be?
SS: Yeah, it was really hard. Joanna Johnson had come to me about what they were planning for the story, and just her sketching the outline for me, telling me what she was writing, just left me in tears. I was really emotional anyway, and I was really uncomfortable. I was worried about my babies all the time just because it was so close to them being born, and how’s it going to go—I was just worried about everything in that time. So it was just an overload of emotion. But the crew and the cast, they are just so supportive. We’d all find a way to laugh, no matter how tragic the scene is. We just find a way to laugh with each other, so I couldn’t have been in better hands really.
AE: In our last interview, you said you hoped Lena would get to explore her relationship with Brandon this season, and you certainly got your chance during the pot brownie scene. It also allowed Brandon to admit what had happened with Dani. Talk to me about that scene and how you think it changed things between these two characters.
SS: I always felt that in real life and on the show, I never want it to be where we are the kids’ best friends. They need to know as well that we have a responsibility to look out for their best interest whether they like it or not. I’m sure Lena is tempted in a way to be more of a friend because maybe because Branson has both Stef and Mike. She kind of feels tempted to be the “good time step-mom,” I guess you could say. [laughs] She also reins it in and does the right thing ultimately. I think Brandon is smart enough to know that she really didn’t have a choice, so I hope he can continue to trust her. No matter what happens, he knows that Lena won’t explode. She’ll take it in calmly. She’s always going to do what’s best for him in the long run.
AE: Lena and Stef have been through so much this season. What were some of your favorite scenes with Teri Polo this season?
SS: Oh man, every scene with Teri. She’s just so crazy, I love her. I remember filming the scene where I was fantasizing about baby to be and we were cuddled up bed and playing with her. Just little tender moments like that. For me, it’s kind of about those small moments that bring people closer to these characters. It’s not about the big, crazy, dramatic scenes. It’s more the little things. The backrubs, having tea, trying to have some Stef and Lena—those kinds of things. The small things are the big things, I guess.
AE: There is a certain nuance between you two as performers. I think that the audience really loves to get to see those little scenes too.
SS: Again, we want to portray this family as it is, like any other family. We have those mundane and wonderful moments just like every family and that’s what I think people relate to a lot, so I love it when they write those.
The Fosters season finale airs tonight on ABC Family.