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Interview with Jake T. Austin of "The
Fosters" on ABC Family 5/15/13
I was on this call before I watched the show. I had the
first few questions. Not only was I foster child, but I was
one in San Diego, just like "The Fosters"! He seems like a
really nice young man and I do enjoy this show a lot. So
does my foster mom, and we discuss it all the time.
ABC Familyís Q&A with Jake T. Austin
Moderator: How many episodes have you filmed so far of the
J. Austin Weíre midway through the production, so weíre
about halfway through the amount of episodes that weíre
going to be starting out premiering. The show premieres on
June 3rd, so thatís when fans will get an opportunity to see
the first episode.
Moderator: Please pass my thanks onto the rest of the people
in charge of the show because I was a foster kid growing up,
so Iím really looking forward to the show.
J. Austin Iím glad you are able to relate to the story weíre
trying to portray. Itís important for us to portray that as
accurately as possible and to act as a voice and to speak to
that issue specifically.
Moderator: The show is based upon a foster home setting for
you character. Did you have to do anything special to
prepare for this role?
J. 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]. Heís, along with
his sister, living in a new traditional family home. So heís
moved on from the foster home when the series picks up.
Moderator: What are you hoping the fans will be able to take
from the show as far as the portrayal of the foster home
J. Austin Iím hoping fans will be able to relate to the
message, which is the definition of family doesnít
necessarily have to do with whoís 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.
Moderator: Twins are always supposed to have that special
bond, what did you and your costar do to kind of get that
twin vibe going?
J. Austin To fall into that, the cast and I have spent a lot
of time together and weíve 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 weíve gotten along so well, and I
think our relationship off-camera really plays into our
Moderator: This show is groundbreaking in that itís featuring
a same-sex household. What is it like to be a part of this
J. Austin Itís 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
thatís very close to me. Itís 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. Thatís just what Iím looking forward to.
Moderator: What was it like working with the rest of the cast
along with your twin on screen?
J. Austin Working with the rest of the cast has been, so
far, a great experience. Everyoneís learning from each other
and everyoneís excited to see where the story line and where
the show is going to take off.
Moderator: Can you give a little more information about your
J. Austin I play Jesus Foster, who is the brother to
Mariana, theyíre a set of twins who have been in and out of
the foster system pretty much since birth. Theyíve 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
Moderator: What drew you to your role as Jesus Foster?
J. Austin 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. Itís a blessing to be working at a time when jobs
are slim and unemployment is rising, so Iím very grateful to
be in the position that I am and also to shed light on some
of the topics that weíre going to be introducing on the
For me, itís just an opportunity to explore my depth as an
actor and also to tell a great story.
Moderator: What sets The Fosters apart from any other drama
series thatís on television today?
J. Austin What sets The Fosters aside from most content
thatís out there is Ė in a world thatís 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. Weíre 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
Moderator: Where does it film, actually?
J. Austin Weíve been in production, filming on location
throughout Los Angeles, including Warner Brothers, as well
as San Diego.
Moderator: Whatís it been like working with such great,
veteran actors, like Teri Polo? Have you learned a lot from
J. Austin Yes. Working with someone like Teri Polo
definitely enhances your ability as an actor. It forces you
to pick up on your craft and also engage in the story to
your fullest extent. Being on set with people who are driven
to tell the story and people who are excited to be a part of
this adventure is really motivating. At the end of the day
thatís what weíre trying to instill through the story.
Moderator: Youíve mentioned Jesusí relationship with his twin
sister. Can you tell us a little bit more about that? How
Jesus and Mariana interact with each other, or what that
relationship is like?
J. Austin Jesus assumes a paternal role over Marianaís
character. Both Jesus and Mariana have been in and out of
the foster system since birth, theyíre reluctant to welcome
any new faces or any new members of the family into their
home, at first, but ultimately find serenity and they find
happiness in their new family. Through their misadventures
and through their mistrials, they are able to build a closer
bond as they enter that next phase into their lives, which
is adulthood, which is where the series picks up.
Moderator: Whatís The Fosters about, how would you describe
J. Austin I would say The Fosters is a relatable, grounded
story about a same-sex couple raising foster children. Itís
an hour drama that also features so many other elements.
Moderator: @matilda on Twitter wants to know what it was like
working with Selena Gomez?
J. Austin Working with Selena Gomez was a blessing. Getting
to do Wizards was a huge, instrumental part of my career,
which is the series that Selena also appeared on. For me, it
was just a huge part of my life and a huge chapter in who I
am. Getting to work with Selena Gomez was definitely
impactful and so much fun, because sheís so talented and
Moderator: What are your thoughts about the success she is
currently having with her career?
J. Austin I think itís great. It seems like sheís exploring
new sides to her career that people didnít expect. Itís just
interesting to see where everything is going.
Moderator: Do you stay in contact with her a pretty good bit?
J. Austin Weíve tried to stay in touch, most of the cast.
Some have been better about it than others. But with
everyoneís schedules and with everything thatís happening,
itís hard to keep tabs. Itís hard, also, to find a time when
weíre all in the same location. But we have kept in touch.
Moderator: How hands-on is Jennifer Lopez with establishing
the show and creating your particular character? Has she
helped you get to know him?
J. Austin 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 Ė itís arguably different, but
itís more controlled, in a way. But Jennifer Lopez has had a
lot of control over style. Itís been great to have someone
that you can emulate and be so involved in a series like
Moderator: Do you think the name of your character is kind of
a metaphor for who he portrays in this particular series?
J. Austin Jesus, in my opinion, is an instrumental character
in the series. I think the aspect of religion does play a
part, but itís hard to see where they want to take that
Moderator: My first question is about the dynamic that weíve
seen Mariana kind of wanting to see her birth mom, meet her,
but Jesus is more standoffish. Is that something weíre going
to see in more episodes to come?
J. Austin I think Jesusí apprehension to meeting his
biological mother deals with his distrust of the foster
system as well as a lot of skeletons that heís unable to
release in his closet. Hopefully, as the show grows and as
the character develops, audiences will be able to see that
back story with Jesus. Hopefully weíre able to learn more
about where they came from and how he deals with moving
Right now itís so early and itís very fresh. For me, as an
actor, to remember the pain and the hardships that foster
children endure everyday is essential to me playing the
Moderator: What do you think is the hardest part about
playing your character?
J. Austin 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, itís very
easy to fall into the shoes of this character. But, as well,
itís hard to contrast and show differences.
Moderator: How was filming The Fosters different from filming
Wizards of Waverly Place?
J. Austin Filming Wizards of Waverly Place, at a time when I
was younger, was very different from The Fosters. I think
Wizards was instrumental in my knowledge of the industry and
also it was my first, live action, major series. So having
done that and then moving onto The Fosters, on a major
network and also dealing with a different element to the
industry, it definitely, in my opinion, improved my game and
improved my performance. Drawing from the experiences I had
on Wizards and learning from either mistakes or improvements
that I was able to make throughout the course of the show,
Iím able to take every experience Iíve had and put it
towards The Fosters, which is more challenging, longer in
length because itís an hour drama, and itís also different
in the subject matter. So for me itís, all across the board,
a new way to express my talent.
Moderator: You have acted in both movies and television
series. Is there one that you prefer over the other?
J. Austin I donít prefer movies over television. Any
opportunity to tell a story, for me, is a great chance as an
actor. Also to play different characters and to challenge
myself as an actor is the most important thing.
Moderator: After spending so much time on Wizards, how easy
is it, or difficult is it, for you to say yes to committing
to another TV series that could last, again, another five
J. Austin For me, itís not so much the length of time that
youíre forced to commit to something. I was more curious as
to the direction of the show and if it was something I saw
myself being a part of. Judging by where everyoneís head was
at, it seemed like a great fit for me.
Right now, I can honestly say this is something Iím happy to
be a part of. Although, whether this show goes for nine
years or ten years, when you commit to something, itís
important you take everything into account, including the
people, including the story, including things just outside
of money. So for me, it was important to realize the
magnitude of the opportunity and also to realize that the
show could go longer than expected.
Moderator: Are you finding youíre getting projects, now, sent
your way that are allowing you to show that youíre grown up?
That youíre not just a little kid anymore?
J. Austin My work as a child actor has definitely contrasted
to some of the work Iíve done earlier. But I still consider
myself so young and so eager to learn. Hopefully I start
seeing more challenging roles that put my talent to the
test. But Iím still early in my career and just eager to get
more credits under my belt.
Moderator: There is what is known as ďThe Disney Channel
Curse,Ē where young stars, such as yourself, come up and
have great success with their shows, and once that show
ends, they have a hard time transitioning to other projects
and having the same level of success. How has that affected
you, or has it affected you?
J. Austin Itís been hard to remove yourself when everyone
can put you in a box and say this is going to happen and,
almost, depict your future based on what theyíve seen in
past experiences with other people. Taking my life and
everything that Iíve gone through into account, I donít see
myself as just a one-sided actor or just somebody of 15
minutes of fame.
To ensure more work, I feel itís vital that you treat
everyone with respect. If you go into everything with an
eagerness to learn, which is where I see myself anytime I go
on set. Anytime I step on set, for me itís an opportunity of
being at film school, in my opinion.
Iím just eager to learn and hopefully people will read into
that. Iím not so concerned with the impact that being
involved with the Disney Family is going to have on my
career. More so Iím concerned with the impression that
people have on me as well as my dedication to the craft,
which is something I want to prove through my work.
Moderator: Are you worried that fans will always associate
you with Max Russo and have a hard time accepting you as
J. Austin There are a lot of people on iconic shows like
Saved by the Bell and Full House Ė certain sitcoms where
characters have built that relationship and fans have built
and grown alongside people for so long, they feel like
theyíre almost there. I want to embrace being Max to the
fullest extent, because for me that was the inciting moment
in my career. That has led me to so many greater
So whenever a fan comes up to me and mentions Max, whether
itís now or 20 years from now, Iíll speak about it like I
just stepped off set. Thatís something that is very close to
me and thatís something that Iím not ashamed of at all.
Wizards, in my opinion, will always be at the fansí
disposal; people can always see it, people can always know
where to find it. Itís nothing to run from.
Moderator: You are the first ever youth spokesperson for the
Ronald McDonald House New York. How did that come about?
J. Austin Being the first youth spokesperson for Ronald
McDonald House had actually come to my attention at an
event. William Sullivan, who is the chairperson at Ronald
McDonald House, had presented me with the opportunity.
Growing up in New York, and my mom being an oncology nurse,
I just had extensive insight into what a lot of these
My eagerness and my wanting to know more, I think, is what
provoked me to get more involved. Visiting the house on
numerous occasions for numerous events, building a
relationship with some of the kids there Ė it really forces
you to look at things from their perspective. The more time
you spend in an environment like that, with such bravery and
such courage, it makes you want to spend even more time
Thatís where my involvement came about. I was eager to help
in any way possible and I was just grateful that they
offered me the opportunity to be a spokesperson and a youth
ambassador. The first youth ambassador, which Iím very proud
Moderator: What do you think is a must-see when you come to
J. Austin Most people would say the Empire State Building or
the Statue of Liberty. I would definitely say the Beast or
Circle Line Ė something where you can go from the Hudson
River to the East River and see the city from an outward
perspective. Definitely just training it, just taking the
A-train all the way uptown and then going all the way
downtown and walking around. Going to the East Village and
just walking, I think, is the best thing. Seeing as much as
possible. Itís 26 square miles and thereís really a lot to
see, so itís hard to say specifically what.
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