Written by | Ray Cornelius 

I had the distinct pleasure of attending a press dinner Monday night with “This Is Us” actress Susan Kelechi Watson. The private gathering was held at the swanky STK Restaurant in Midtown-Atlanta and was hosted by NBC in support of the show’s mid-season return TONIGHT at 10 p.m. EST. (It was pushed back due to President Barack Obama’s Farewell Speech at 9 p.m. EST)

Watson was still buzzing from Sunday night’s Golden Globes Awards ceremony where the show was nominated for Best Dramatic Television Series and was just as excited to meet us as we were to hang out with her. The Howard University graduate, who was raised in New York City by Jamaican born parents, was eager to dish about the show and her down-to-earth character Beth Pearson.

Displaying image006.jpg“This Is Us” follows Jack and Rebecca Pearson and their children Kate, Randall and Kevin, affectionately known as “The Big Three.”  The series features their present lives and flashes back to their unique childhood experiences that make them the complex adults they are today.  Watson is the wife of Randall, played by award winning-actor Sterling K. Brown. She is a no-nonsense kind of woman who is very protective of her husband, her children and their tight knit bond.  According to Watson, she is very mindful of how she portrays Beth and tries to keep her as authentic as possible.  “I try not to make any of her mannerisms or her ways like mine. I enjoy that about acting. I like when acting is different from who I am,” said Watson.

When asked how much of what she says is scripted versus ad-libbed, Watson quickly said that most of the fan’s favorite lines were actually written into the script by show writer, K.J. Steinberg.

“Honestly the lines that people ask me about the most, if I improv, are normally the ones that were scripted.  Someone asked me about the episode when I thought I was pregnant and my line is, ‘I’m buggin out baby!’ They thought I put that in there but that was actually written in there. The script actually said, ‘I’m bugging out baby.'”

While Watson may appear to be a new face to prime time, she’s actually got quite an impressive resume filled with appearances here and there on a number of other popular evening shows including “Third Watch,” “Law & Order,” “Private Practice,” “The Following” and most recently, “Veep.” But it looks like she has found a home on “This Is Us” and is truly proud to be a part of a show that bridges the gap between the Baby Boomers, Generation Xers and Millenials.

“I feel incredibly proud to be able to do this kind of work that people feel good about. What I like is the feedback I get from a broad range of people like pre-teens all the way up to the elderly. The gap is bananas, almost like eight decades and that’s some of the magic of the show. In one night, I had someone who was maybe in their mid-fifties comes up to me and then the next minute it was a group of teenage girls who were like, ‘Can we take a selfie!'”

You can watch Susan Kelechi Watson in “This Is Us” tonight at 10 p.m. on NBC.

Photo Credits: RayCornelius.com and Paras Griffin for NBC