'This Is Us': An Iconic Actress Returns Tonight

Tuesday night's episode of This is Us features the return of Phylicia Rashad to the series. Rashad [...]

Tuesday night's episode of This is Us features the return of Phylicia Rashad to the series. Rashad plays Carole Clarke, mother of Beth Pearson, who is played by Susan Kelechi Watson. Fans are eager to have the TV veteran back on screen.

Rashad is an icon in Hollywood, best-known to many for playing Clair Huxtable on The Cosby Show. However, she has a long resume of dramatic roles as well, and she is perfectly suited to the melodrama of This is Us. The show is returning from a break nearly a month-long on Tuesday, picking up after Beth had a spat with Randall in the last episode. The two argued about having more children and Randall's wish for a larger family, which may hint at how Rashad's character will factor into the story.

Rashad has appeared in two episodes of This is Us before — Season 3, Episode 13 "Our Little Island Girl" and Season 4, Episode 4, "Flip a Coin." In the first, Beth visited her mother to help care for her but soon found herself in an emotional confrontation instead. She had an epiphany about some frustration she had been hanging onto for years, and how to work it out.

Rashad's second appearance on the show was even more tense, and included her character in both the flashback timeline and in the present day. There, she clashed with Randall, not her daughter, and even cast aspersions on their relationship early on. The episode outlined some of the ripple effects on their relationship still echoing through the years.

This is Us is acclaimed for its carefully laid storylines following the extended Pearson family in both the 1980s and the present day, and highlighting how their pasts influence their presents. It helped make actor Sterling K. Brown — who plays Randall — a household name, and today he is a ubiquitous star of both the big screen and TV.

Still, even for a show of this stature casting Rashad is a major bonus. Rashad was deemed "The Mother of the Black Community" at the 2010 NAACP Image Awards, mostly for her work in media and leading by example. Rashad's other best-known roles include For Colored Girls in 2010, both Creed movies and Steel Magnolias, among many others. These days, she remains integral to the hottest dramas, including 13 Reasons Why and Empire.

Rashad's latest performance on This is Us premieres on Tuesday, March 16 at 9 p.m. ET on NBC.