If you’re a fan of the hit drama series, ‘This is Us’ then you’ll recall Beth Pearson performed by actress Susan Kelechi Watson who is of Jamaican and Nigerian descent. Susan has been soaring in her career, sharing screen time with notable Hollywood acts and landing recurring roles in “NCIS”, “Blue Bloods” and the “Black List”. She’s also the actress who plays Mom Twist in the animated series, Ada Twist, Scientist on Netflix.
While Susan was born and grew up in Brooklyn, New York, her Jamaican roots are ever-present in her representation on and off-screen. Now let’s meet Susan!
1. Which Jamaican dish do you enjoy preparing?
I want to say ackee and saltfish with fried dumplings, so that you can be very impressed by me, but I’m going to go with bun and cheese because it’s the easiest to make and I slice both really well. Though I have made ackee and saltfish before, my mom’s version is the absolute best so I prefer to eat hers.
2. I love bun and cheese too so you get a pass! When you’re in Jamaica, where is one place you must visit?
When I’m in Jamaica, I must visit Kingston to visit my family. Whenever I visit Jamaica I always try to schedule a day or two to be with them.
3. Yes, family is important! If you’re familiar with Jamaican music, which Jamaican songs are your favourite?
When it comes to favourites, I go with the three B’s: Beres, Bob and Buju. I grew up listening to all three. You can pick any song from their catalog of music and it’s bound to be one of my favourites.
4. Yes, they are icons. You’ve been working in the film industry for some time. How do you feel about more Jamaican personalities landing prominent roles in movies and TV series?
I’m a big advocate for more Jamaicans being in the film and TV industry here in the US. Whatever I write, I write with our people in mind so that I can find authentic Jamaican personalities, actors, and entertainers to portray the characters. I hope to do this more often as I write and produce in the future.
5. And we’re seeing more Jamaican content being shared on social media. Tell us your favourite Jamaican social media personality.
My favourite Jamaican personality on social media is Julie Mango. My cousins in Jamaica are always sending me her content. She is so funny and on point. She truly understands our people, our humor, and all the things that make us unique.
6. Julie Mango is certainly a gem. Let’s switch pace for a bit. When you’re off-camera, what are some activities you do to wind down?
I’m a big comedy fan, so one of the things I love to do to wind down when I’m off camera, is watch all things comedy. I try to watch as many as I can across all streaming platforms and the networks. It’s always been a source of fun and relaxation for me. I also love to hang out with my friends, do karaoke, go out to eat, have drinks on a rooftop as well as exploring and traveling. I love a good road trip, especially when it leads to someplace really beautiful.
7. This is Us is a popular show among Jamaican TV viewers. Of all the seasons, which one is your favourite?
Season 3 is my favourite. It’s where we got to learn more about Beth: her backstory and her family. When Beth and Randall were going through marital troubles, I loved exploring those storylines. This current season is also a favorite of mine because we are wrapping up all of the storylines and we don’t have to keep any more secrets haha. It’s exciting to see what happens with all the characters and I feel like there have been some extraordinary moments exploring Kate and Toby’s divorce, the last years of Rebecca’s life, finding out who Kevin eventually marries, and seeing Randall and Beth live their lives together happily with their three girls. So I think it’ll be a great season for everyone who has been watching the show since day one.
8. So many women are inspired by your versatility and raw talent, tell us 3 things that you do weekly to stay motivated.
To stay motivated, I prioritize taking care of my mind, body, and spirit. So I pray, I make sure to eat right and work out; I particularly enjoy doing yoga. And for my mind I love to do online crosswords, spelling bees, and all types of puzzles and trivia quizzes that I find on the NYT apps to keep my mind sharp. Buzzfeed has some cute ones too.
9. In one sentence, offer some encouragement to your Jamaican fans.
My mother told me “what ah fi mi, cyan be unfi mi” and I have found it to be very encouraging and very true.
10. Said like a true Jamaican mom! Now before you go, we featured Nicola Lambo a few weeks ago and she mentioned how she admires your work ethic and talent. What’s her reaction to this compliment shared by Nicola?
I am touched that another fellow Jamaican and actor admires how I’ve chosen to show up in this industry. I’m sure Nicola has been working hard as well and I’m happy that we are breaking ground for other Jamaicans to be seen within this industry.
Thank you so much for sharing a piece of you with us Susan!
Did you enjoy your sneak preview into the life of Susan Kelechi Watson? Which Jamaican digital influencer should we feature next?
Although you are, spending more time, ‘outside’, you can’t deny that the great Panasonic has influenced your growing interest in online entertainment. And you’d be surprised to learn how many Jamaicans play prominent roles in the TV shows, movies and music you stream online. As we continue this feature series, we’ll give you a sneak preview of the lives of our prominent Jamaican digital influencers in your favourite TV shows, movies, and songs.