This Is Us will soon give viewers a look at Beth Pearson’s past — and her future. Fans last saw the character, played by Susan Kelechi Watson, in a future-set scene that showed her running a dance studio. In the present day-set scenes, Beth ordered her husband Randall (Sterling K. Brown) to the couch after he backpedaled on his promise to back out of his city council election to focus on their family.
In a new interview with Entertainment Weekly, Susan Kelechi Watson teased her character’s future as well as a flashback showcase episode that will give fans all of the answers about her past. Kelechi Watson told EW that she was thrilled when producers told her about the flash-forward scenes set at a mysterious dance studio, mostly because it meant her character will be alive in 20 years.
“My mom said, ‘Yes! She lived!’ I get to see myself 20 years from now, which was very cool… And also the fact that Beth is now fully immersed back into her ballet and dance culture, which is where she belongs.”
The This Is Us star also revealed that one of the inspirations for future Beth was famed choreographer Judith Jamison, the longtime Artistic Director of the prestigious Alvin Alley American Dance Theater in New York City.
“One of our inspirations for Beth — and even her dress and the way she looked — was Judith Jamison. Judith Jamison is, like, supreme. But it was just this little glimpse. I didn’t realize that it was going to be on such a large scale, but it really looks some grand ballet studio.,..A lot of people are like, ‘Well, wait? Is she Debbie Allen in the future? And how funny that Phylicia [Rashad, who is Allen’s sister] is now her mom on the show…. Now people will know why, and it won’t feel like something so far removed from what she was doing when we learned it. That’s what she always wanted to do.”
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Susan Kelechi Watson also promised that with the upcoming showcase episode, This Is Us fans will get the full story on Beth Pearson and how she ends up running a major dance studio. Fans will also find out if Beth and Randall survive their marital problems. Kelechi Watson said the resolution for the couple will be “emotional.”
Last month, Susan Kelechi Watson told TV Line her character’s backstory would be showcased in Episode 13 of the current third season.
“We have a really great new writer Eboni Freeman, [who is] the main writer on it, and some of it is her story, very personal to her,” the This Is Us star told TVLine. “They found a way to create this really beautiful backstory, and a beginning of a resolution of Beth starting to get back on her footing again. And then we have some amazing surprises in it. It’s going to be a really powerful episode.”
Susan Kelechi Watson previously told the Los Angeles Times that Beth comes from a Jamaican background and that her mother is still alive but her father is not.
“She has sisters and comes from a big family,” the NBC star teased. “Seeing how that plays into her life, who does she go to for advice and help outside of the Pearson clan…she’s like a slow-peeling onion.”
This Is Us returns Tuesday, January 15, at 9 p.m. on NBC.