'This Is Us' Star Susan Kelechi Watson Talks Relationship With 'TV Mom' Phylicia Rashad

This Is Us delivered on a power episode uncovering Beth Pearson's emotional childhood.

"Our Little Island Girl" featured Beth (Susan Kelechi Watson) heading back home after news that her mother was ill, and exploring the key moments that made her the woman fans of the show love in the present storyline.

The episode took a deep dive into Beth and Zoey's (Melanie Liburd) childhood, as the two women reunited with Carol (Phylicia Rashad) in an attempt to convince her to retire after she is injured at work.

Fans also got to learn how as a child, Beth attended a prestigious dance academy but Carol later influenced her to go to college and pursue a more practical career following some heartbreaking circumstances. After revealing to her mother that she was laid off in the present, Beth comes to the decision to finally pursue her dance dreams, alluding to her profession in the future storyline.

After the special Beth-centric episode was screened for press during the Television Critics Association winter press tour, Watson opened up about working with Rashad, whom she knew personally before she was cast as Carol on the show.

"...There's a great respect and reverence for her career, but I also know her so there's a personal relationship there," Watson said of working with Rashad. "It was easy to step into. I wouldn't know anybody else that I would want to play my TV mom. I just don't... this feels like a long time coming so I'm grateful that we had an opportunity to do it in this way."

Watson revealed that the dance sequence featured during the episode was a minute-and-a-half number choreographed for the special episode, and with the reveal of Beth's passion for dance, there will be more of those in future episodes.

The actress also reflected on the relationship between herself and Rashad, and how their personal connection helped them embody mother and daughter for Tuesday's episode.

"Phylicia is very special to me and I, I'm gonna say this boldly, but I'll take the chance, I'm special to her... We're special to one another and so it was a great chance to reconnect, to catch up, but I'm always learning from her," Watson told reporters. "She was really quite generous in our scenes together and said some really truly wonderful loving things to me off set that will be between us, but it's really a amazing opportunity to act with her in this way with this material and for us to be in this relationship. Mother and daughter, it's just so perfect."

With fans eager to learn more about Beth's backstory, Watson said she was happy creator Dan Fogelman chose to highlight her character's past in Season 3.

"I think anytime that you get to really to explore a character's background, it's such a gift," Watson said. "I hope that people see it the way we do and now they feel more satisfied that they know a bit about where Beth is coming from."

Watson also talked about the mystery behind Randall and Beth's relationship in the future timeline, revealing the show's intentions of exploring the fan-favorite couple's tension in Season 3.

"I don't know if people would believe us as much if we never went through anything," Watson said. "I think every fine gemstone needs to be polished and so, if you're seeing a relationship that you think is great, they have to come through something. They have to get through something, too."

"I feel like this is part of it. This is part of the telling of what marriage is and sometimes you don't know what's gonna happen. You know what I mean? You just don't know. You go into it with the best intentions, but you don't know what the ending is gonna be. You can only set forth your intention. We're in that space," she added.


What did you think of the big Beth episode? This Is Us airs Tuesdays at 9 p.m. ET on NBC.

Additional reporting by Scott Huver.