*Warning: Spoilers ahead*
Since coming out in season three of This Is Us, Eris Baker’s character Tess has struggled to find her footing with her new identity. When the family moved to Philadelphia, Tess saw it as the perfect opportunity to be out once and for all. But, as we saw in last night’s season four, episode three, that’s easier said than done.
When we spoke with Baker, she explained Tess’s plight and dished on what the remainder of the season has in store for her.
“Tess is definitely struggling to come out at her school. She was so excited to start fresh and that she wouldn’t have to come out because the people at this school don’t know about her,” the 14-year-old This Is Us star explained. “She could already be out but she’s so hesitant and afraid to come out that fear is taking over her and she has a wall and won’t let her guard down.”
She added, “I’m just glad she talked to Deja (Lyric Ross) because obviously she isn’t talking to her mom, who she’s really close with.”
Prior to starting at her new school, Tess and, by consequence, Baker, underwent a physical transformation. “In a million years, I never would have thought to cut my hair but I’m so happy I did it,” Baker explained, referencing her character’s new cropped cut.
Although Baker was at first hesitant to chop her long locks off, she ultimately thought about the impact it could have on young people struggling with their own sexual identities.
“I feel like there are so many other Tesses in the world. This is one step toward her embracing her identity…Obviously Tess isn’t as confident at the moment but I for sure think her confidence is going to grow,” Baker mused. “It’s her first week with a new haircut and I feel like whenever you make a change, you’re not going to love it right away. It’s baby steps for her.”
As far as what the rest of the season holds for Tess, Baker says she doesn’t know for sure. She does know, however, that Tess “is going to go through challenges.” She also hopes her character will be more open with people and build her confidence.
But Tess isn’t the only daughter in the Pearson household going through emotional turmoil. Deja also just learned that her boyfriend, Malik (Asante Blackk), has a child from a previous relationship. Baker weighed in on Deja and Malik’s romance, saying, “Deja is just starting to really open up to the family and I’m happy that she found a connection with somebody. Looking from the outside in, I feel like there could be difficulties in their relationship only because Deja is so grounded and it’s a lot to know your boyfriend already has a child. It’s not only going to put pressure on her, but it’s also going to put pressure on the family.”
Still, Baker says she hopes “that it works out because Deja and Malik are so alike in some ways and I think they’re strong enough to make it work.”
We’ll have to wait and see when This Is Us returns with season four, episode four on Tuesday, October 15, at 9 p.m. PT/ET.