After more than a decade, Cierra Ramirez is getting ready to say goodbye to Mariana Adams Foster.
The role not only helped launch her acting career when The Fosters debuted in 2013, but also opened the door for opportunities behind the camera. Ramirez has served as an executive producer on the spinoff series Good Trouble since it launched.
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It only makes sense that, before the series wraps, Ramirez would don yet another cap on set: director. Ramirez makes her directorial debut with Tuesday’s episode, titled “Party of One” — an opportunity she told Deadline she’s been chomping at the bit for.
“I’ve always been super enamored by what happens behind the scenes or behind the camera, just as much as I am passionate about being in front of the camera,” she said.
She spoke with Deadline in the interview below about stepping into the directors chair for Season 5, as well as reflecting on Mariana’s journey in both The Fosters and Good Trouble over the past 10 years.
DEADLINE: What inspired you to take on directing this season?
CIERRA RAMIREZ: It’s something that I’ve always been really interested in, growing up on set. I’ve always been super enamored by what happens behind the scenes or behind the camera, just as much as I am passionate about being in front of the camera. So, growing up on The Fosters and Good Trouble, I was always in video village just picking the directors [brain] and asking them questions and talking about camera lenses, asking them just everything under the sun. I was super, super interested in that. After shadowing a couple times, they threw that out there and asked me if I wanted to do it, and it was just an absolute dream come true. I had so much fun.
DEADLINE: What did you learn through those shadowing opportunities that helped prepare you to really step into that role?
RAMIREZ: I think just the idea of storytelling through camera work. It was so cool. I mean, I think something that I really love about our show is they really take a lot of risks…our shots are not very traditional. In this world that they’ve created, you can really do no wrong. There’s so much beauty in it. One thing that really stood out to me was when I shadowed Peter Paige, who is one of our creators, he had a scene where Callie and her boyfriend were fighting, and they put a pole in between them, subconsciously showing the audience that there’s something between them. I’m so fascinated with it. I’ve always kept that with me. I’m like, ‘Wow, there’s so much around in this environment that can help you tell the story.’
DEADLINE: Is there a scene in the episode that you’re particularly proud of?
RAMIREZ: Well, you know that Marianna and Joaquinare sleuthing around trying to get to the bottom of Silas [and the farm]. There’s a really fun moment… a little montage scene that I had a lot of fun with. There’s some fun music, really cool shots, and I learned a lot about CSI through it.
DEADLINE: In terms of directing scenes that you’re also in, like that one, what kinds of challenges did you encounter?
RAMIREZ: Actually, that was one of the first scenes that I filmed during my episode. I was already super nervous as is, but I feel like throwing myself into that and getting that really hard part that I was really nervous about over with, helped with my nerves. I was really just surrounded by so much support throughout the entire process. We went through our rehearsals, we shot the rehearsals, I could see what it was like, and then I would run behind to see different angles. It was kind of tough to be in both worlds and be really in tune with the scene that I was in and living in that, but also like, ‘Oh, I want to talk to someone about that note’ or ‘I want to tweak that’ or ‘That’s the moment that I want to capture.’
DEADLINE: There’s a scene in last week’s episode where Mariana breaks down to her therapist. It’s a pretty powerful scene. Can you talk about filming it?
RAMIREZ: I think that was probably one of my most favorite scenes throughout this entire journey, because being on this this ride with Marianna, I think I realized in that moment, this girl has gone through so much. I don’t think that she’s ever actually admitted that she needs someone to talk to or someone to help. She always puts on a brave face and helps others, but she never really helps herself. Ao I think that for me, acting as Marianna for the past 10 years, it was a really big moment for me that I was like ‘Wow, this is actually a huge moment because it’s something that’s been needed probably since Season 1 of The Fosters.’ It was everything that she went through thus far on Good Trouble, but it stemmed back to her in the foster system and everything that she dealt with on The Fosters. And it’s a lot. So all of that to be bottled up and, in that moment where she finally just feels safe to release all of that, it just felt so natural and necessary, because I know and I love this character so much. I care about her so much, and so for me, it was a really big moment. It was really just nice to kind of just break down.
DEADLINE: I’m glad you brought up what she went through on The Fosters. I recently rewatched it, and I think I took for granted how ahead of its time that show was.
RAMIREZ: I mean, this show is so much bigger than me or anyone that’s a part of helping make it. It’s really made a difference, and being able to portray someone and be representation for people who don’t necessarily have a voice or a platform to do so, has been such an honor. Something that’s always drawn me to it was just how topical it was. It was so necessary, everything that we talked about…it was amazing to grow up in that environment. It’s really been something that, like you said, I took for granted, but it’s helped shaped me into who I am. It’s what I’m so passionate about in general. So to be able to portray that and tell those stories, it’s something that I definitely want to continue on in life for sure.
DEADLINE: Besides Mariana’s story, it there another that you’re particularly proud to be telling this season?
RAMIREZ: Oh, I feel like there’s so much. These characters are all so different. I love all of the different worlds that they’re in. I really love Luca, and I feel like Booboo Stewart has been just the best addition to our cast. We’re like, ‘Oh my gosh, it’s like you’ve been here all along.’ He’s just so great and I love the representation with that with his houselessness and start a new life and exploring not forgetting who you are, but [leaning into] who you’re becoming. I just love his love triangle, too. That’s such a cute little storyline. I love Luca’s storyline, and I feel like it’s been really cool to see his character grow.
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