Kalama Epstein talks Noah, Jude, and THE FOSTERS

Photo Credit: Russell Baer

One of the highlights of THE FOSTERS over the seasons has been watching Jude grow up – and all the struggles that come with it.  We watched his first love with Connor fall apart when Connor left town. While it was hard for Jude, he seems to be recovering from that loss pretty well as his relationship with Noah (Kalama Epstein) grows deeper. The teenage boys are finding themselves, experimenting with recreational drugs, causing headaches for Jude’s moms Lena and Steph, and falling in love.

I spent some time chatting with Kalama about being a part of this show and all that it represents, what comes next for Jude and Noah, and whose story-line is blowing him away this season!

When you watch THE FOSTERS, it’s like you just want these Adams-Foster kids to have something go their way.

Were you a fan of the show before joining? What did you know of THE FOSTERS before bringing this role to the show?
A lot of my friends watched it and cousins and family watched it, but I never really … I watched a few episodes here and there, but I had never watched the whole series or I wasn’t a diehard fan or anything. I had definitely seen some of it, and I had seen a lot of ads and other things so I knew of the show and I had seen an episode here and there. I guess the breakdown for it, I started watching it and I went in not knowing the show very well, but of course after I got the role I watched it and been watching it. I love the show. I really do.

I think what you even said, your family and cousins and people you know, the show, so many people, so many different people watching the show. It’s something for everybody.
I completely agree. Totally.

We get a little bit, I guess in last week’s episode, Jude gets the go ahead, the second chance even though he’s still been seeing Noah. What can you tease about maybe what that means? What are we going to see next? What comes next for these two?
You’re really going to see their relationship blossom and grow and strengthen as Jude’s going through a very hard time right now and you see how their relationship strengthens and grows. You’ll really get to see that.

What I love too, is that like Lena, you assume that he’s given Jude something scandalous and he puts it in his locker and it turns out to be a poem. He’s got this romantic side to him. It has to be exciting to really get to portray a budding romance and see that play out.
Very. Very much so. It’s very exciting. It’s so awesome to see where the relationship goes and how their relationship only grows and becomes stronger and how they grow as people together.

Obviously as you get more involved with Jude, will we see you interact more with the family?
You’ll definitely see some more interaction with Noah and the family the rest of this season, but Noah definitely does stay … Noah is, he’s definitely, he’s new. He’s new to the family. The family doesn’t know him super well yet. He’s definitely still a newbie. You won’t be seeing him super close with any of the other siblings or anything like that, but you will get to see him interact with some of the family in the rest of the season.

What have you been hearing from fans? I know that there is a lot of people that were real “Jonnor” shippers. What have you heard now coming in and that Connor relationship in the past, what are fans saying to you? Do you get the support, like, “I love you guys together,” are you hearing that?
I hear a lot of it. The majority what I receive is mostly supportive. Supportive reactions, but you definitely still have the people who just don’t like Noah and you don’t have to like Noah. Anything we could do … We could write Noah as just the sweetest, greatest guy in the world, so there’s nothing you can really do about that, and I understand that. I get it. I don’t dislike those people. I totally get it. I understand it. I understand it. I watch TV, too. You like who you like, you don’t like who you don’t like. There’s nothing you can really do. Yeah, I get those types of messages and things like that occasionally or I see those things occasionally, but the majority of it is all very loving and very supportive and everybody very much liking Jude and Noah together. Some people just don’t like Noah, but …

You want to get a reaction from people, and either if it’s good or bad you know that it’s having some kind of impact on them.

The show, I think, what it does well and better than others is that not every episode is this “very special episode” where Jude realizes maybe he’s gay and he has this boyfriend. It’s just a fact of life. Everything about the show, they’re just facts of life. Can you speak to the importance I think, of THE FOSTERS, how it does that, how nothing is done just for a special episode’s sake?
Oh, totally. Everything, it all very comes from these … There’s just so many messages and so many things to take away from this show. It’s never just done for TV. There’s always a greater message behind it or something behind what goes on in this show. For what’s going on with Jude and Noah right now with the pot and them just being teens, that’s it. Teenagers, they’re being kids. That’s what kids do. They experiment. They go around and they try new things. You can’t be angry at Jude, at Noah for doing those things. That’s just what the majority of what teenagers do. They try to experiment. You can’t get angry at them for that. I feel like it’s normal. It’s a very normal thing for teenagers to try and experiment with new things and you can’t be mad at Jude and Noah for doing that.

So many pieces of the show that are so important and so, it’s such a strong and great message behind it. The show just touches on so many amazing subjects.

Do you feel that way, do you feel how important the show is as you’re making it?
I definitely feel like, I really, I do care about the show. I think it’s pretty incredible. I think the message behind it and what the show stands for and the messages it stands and the values it stands for, I think it’s incredibly important to this show now. I think we need shows like this today. Of course, at the end of the day it is also a job. You have to do your job and everybody works so hard on this show. I definitely care about the show deeply. I think it stands for so many amazing things. I’m so happy to be a part of it, so this show is definitely not just a job to be. Of course it is a job. You do have to create this drama. You have to put care into every little bit of the show. It stands for so many important things and so, so grateful to be on it.

Have you gotten a chance to do any social outreach or be involved in any of the type of charities through working on the show?
I donate monthly to the ACLU. I think that’s, it’s so important. They do stand for so many things. That’s the biggest organization that I donate to. I want to get around to volunteering for the LA LGBT center. I’d definitely love to start volunteering a lot more. That’s definitely something that I do want to do. I grew up volunteering for Special Olympics and things like that. My father worked for them. Yeah, I try to donate to different organizations and I definitely want to get out and start volunteering a lot more, because it’s definitely important and definitely showing my support for the LGBTQ Plus community, and so many other communities, foster youth and everything this show stands for.

You said that you do watch TV. Do you get a chance to watch specific shows? Are there shows that you can’t miss every week that you’re always tuning in for? What are favorites?
Definitely GAME OF THRONES. That’s my bread and butter, as I feel like it’s most people’s, but that is definitely the top one. Another big one, love RICK AND MORTY. I do like my animated shows, RICK AND MORTY, SOUTH PARK. Of course, I’m a teenage boy, of course I love those shows. GAME OF THRONES. I kind of fell out of THE WALKING DEAD, stopped watching that. I love, I started so many shows and I haven’t been able to finish any of them or keep on going. I started a million a different shows. I’m trying to make it through a bunch right now.

You mentioned for “this season”, do you think that there’s hope to see Noah keep coming back? Do you think this is going to last awhile and we’re really going to see them explore this long relationship with Jude?
I think, you can never officially say. I can never say for sure. I can hope for that. That’s what I hope for. I’d love to see that. You can never say for sure, because I don’t write the show [laughs], but I can hope for that and I think that’s what we’re in for. I hope to see that, because I love this character so much and I love this relationship with Jude so much.

What about other characters on the show? Can you tease? Do you know, what you can tease about what’s going to come for other people, what are we going to see from Callie, and what can we expect from the Brandon falls out from Julliard? Do you have little sneak peeks you can give for the other guys?
I read the scripts to the episodes that I’m in [laughs], so I know some of what goes along on the way. I think Callie’s story this season is pretty remarkable and pretty incredible. Yeah, I can’t really give away anything that happens. I can say that going through the episodes, there was a definitely a few times where even I was quite shocked and/or feeling, that kind of feeling, just from reading the scripts, so I’m very excited to see how they come out.

Why do you think, and we’ve touched on it a little bit, but why do you think The Fosters is a show for everybody? What do you think so many people have embraced this show?
It stands for so many different groups of people and so many different values and messages, and it has so many different things. It has so many different aspects. It has comedy, it has drama, it has action. It’s everything you’d want in a show. I feel like that’s why people can gather around the show and it stands for so many important messages and stands up for so many important groups and represents so many important groups. I feel like that’s why. That’s why so many people gather around it, because it’s so important and it stands for so many important things. There’s just not that many shows that do that.

THE FOSTERS airs Tuesday nights at 8/7c on Freeform.