ABC Family’s ground-breaking series The Fosters is premiering in just a few days!
In honor of the series debut, CelebSecrets4U sat down with Jake T. Austin, who plays “Jesus” in the series! Mariana’s fraternal twin, Jesus is a charming, hyperkinetic kid who is protective of his sister and his adoptive family. Jesus isn’t as good a student as his sister, but he is far more sensible and pragmatic than she.
Jake T. Austin spills on his character, the show, and what its like playing a foster child below.
The Fosters premieres on Monday, June 3rd at 9:00PM ET/PT on ABC Family.
The show is based upon a foster home setting for you character. Did you have to do anything special to prepare for this role?
Jake T. Austin: “As actors, we did our homework, and we did some research into the foster care system; also getting to meet with some foster kids and people who had had firsthand experience and firsthand knowledge. The show picks up where I play a twin who had been through the foster system and [was adopted by the family five years ago]. He’s, along with his sister, living in a new traditional family home. So he’s moved on from the foster home when the series picks up.”
What are you hoping the fans will be able to take from the show as far as the portrayal of the foster home aspect?
“I’m hoping fans will be able to relate to the message, which is the definition of family doesn’t necessarily have to do with who’s in your family, but more so how you look at the relationship. More importantly, the show will hopefully shed light on some bigger issues and some larger topics that may be controversial to some.”
Twins are always supposed to have that special bond, what did you and your costar do to kind of get that twin vibe going?
“To fall into that, the cast and I have spent a lot of time together and we’ve built a great chemistry. So going into the series, we were just really looking forward to exploring new story lines and new avenues that our characters can take. But we’ve gotten along so well, and I think our relationship off-camera really plays into our performance.”
This show is groundbreaking in that it’s featuring a same-sex household. What is it like to be a part of this show?
“It’s great to fit into this show, especially at a time when a lot of issues are being brought to light. And to also act as a voice for a lot of those issues and to portray a character that feels very real and grounded and someone that’s very close to me. It’s a blessing to be working at this time and just to be involved in the show like this. That can bring and open the doors to so many new families, hopefully. That’s just what I’m looking forward to.”
What was it like working with the rest of the cast along with your twin on screen?
“Working with the rest of the cast has been, so far, a great experience. Everyone’s learning from each other and everyone’s excited to see where the story line and where the show is going to take off.”
Can you give a little more information about your character?
“I play Jesus Foster, who is the brother to Mariana, they’re a set of twins who have been in and out of the foster system pretty much since birth. They’ve embraced the idea of welcoming new foster children into their home and they live under the same roof as a same-sex couple in San Diego. The show picks up in a time when Jesus is coming into his own as a man and also assuming a paternal role for his sister.”
What drew you to your role as Jesus Foster?
“What drew me to the role of Jesus was the opportunity to tell a groundbreaking story, in my opinion, and to be a part of something that was so real and so relatable. It’s a blessing to be working at a time when jobs are slim and unemployment is rising, so I’m very grateful to be in the position that I am and also to shed light on some of the topics that we’re going to be introducing on the show.
For me, it’s just an opportunity to explore my depth as an actor and also to tell a great story.”
What sets The Fosters apart from any other drama series that’s on television today?
“What sets The Fosters aside from most content that’s out there is – in a world that’s seemingly driven by consumership and selling things to you, so to speak, The Fosters just wants to tell an honest story, using very relatable and real people and real story lines. We’re able to convey this message and share in the hardships that the family experiences, the triumphs that they feel at the end of the day, which is really where we see the story going: a story of ups and downs and really telling a tale that hopefully a lot of Americans can relate to. And also international folk.”
What’s The Fosters about, how would you describe it?
“I would say The Fosters is a relatable, grounded story about a same-sex couple raising foster children. It’s an hour drama that also features so many other elements.”
How hands-on is Jennifer Lopez with establishing the show and creating your particular character? Has she helped you get to know him?
“I do know Jennifer Lopez had firsthand say and handpicked a lot of the characteristics that are going to be featured on the show as well as incorporating her style and implementing her own flavor and charisma. The show will feature, I think, a new side – it’s arguably different, but it’s more controlled, in a way. But Jennifer Lopez has had a lot of control over style. It’s been great to have someone that you can emulate and be so involved in a series like this.”
Do you think the name of your character is kind of a metaphor for who he portrays in this particular series?
“Jesus, in my opinion, is an instrumental character in the series. I think the aspect of religion does play a part, but it’s hard to see where they want to take that character.”
What do you think is the hardest part about playing your character?
“The hardest part about playing this character is, at times, to not get too comfortable. Although there are so many differences in our personal lives, Jesus and I feel very parallel and I feel very parallel to Jesus in similar ways. There are certain things about our personalities and our characteristics that are identical. So for me, it’s very easy to fall into the shoes of this character. But, as well, it’s hard to contrast and show differences.”