David Lambert and ‘The Fosters’ Kids Might Be an Answer to Our Diversity Problem
There are many ways of dealing with an issue. You can choose to ignore it, you can whine and complain about its existence, or you can take the bull by the horns and actively make a change. The cast of The Fosters has decided on the the third approach, whether they like it or not.
David Lambert stands at the forefront of an adolescent cast that’s revolutionizing the televised family narrative. Lambert portrays Brandon Foster, whose mother divorced her husband to marry a stunning and smart Vice Principal. This second spouse just so happens to be a woman of color.
His family is a mosaic of foster children that continues to expand in size and hue, even into the recent mid-season ‘3B’ premiere. Lambert’s character specifically finds himself in a conundrum when his love interest, Callie, becomes his adoptive sister soon after they have sex. This, combined with parallel plot twists for the other characters that emerged at the third season’s break left Fosters fans entirely stressed and scrambling for resolve. I spoke with Lambert the day after the ‘3B’ return amid fans proverbially pulling out their hair over the show’s return on social media and beyond.
— justine (@hotsforbrallie) January 20, 2015
“Obviously you don’t want to disappoint or freak the fans out in any way that would be negative,” Lambert explained to Celebuzz. “So there is a responsibility now that is forming on set to make sure that we’re doing a good job. I think in terms of the writing specifically, they continue to impress even us with this content that’s pouring out.”
Jennifer Lopez’s pet project consistently challenges the existing blueprint of how the American household is portrayed on TV to reflect this term’s modern, amorphous definition. The drama breaks down the walls of “taboo”, having broadcasted the youngest LGBT kiss in television history, and has been given more elbow room for PG+ content with ABC Family’s decision to rebrand as a network under the name ‘Freeform’.
“It’s been a very interesting thing to observe and be a part of,” says Lambert, conceding that next season’s material will be slightly more mature. “I don’t think it’s gonna be HBO or anything but I think that we’re more ‘grown up’ and trying to keep up with the millennial audience. We’re aware that people get older, so we’re trying to cater to that. It will be interesting to see how many liberties we’ll be able to take with the network’s new name.”
Even before the transition to Freeform, Lambert felt extreme pride in being a member of Lopez’s revolution-that-could.
“I’m just grateful to not be a part of something that’s been done before, or is reminiscent of a past show,” says Lambert. “I think that The Fosters does have a bit of familiarity in terms of a family show, but it’s also something modern and progressive and different. It has a lot of different flavors involved and it keeps it very relevant.
“I think a lot of our audience feels that they can relate to at least one topic that we’re talking about. I prefer to be a part of something like that instead of a flashy action shows, so I feel very lucky.”
Be it timing or fate giving credit where it’s due, the show’s most poignant moment thus far for the LGBT-Q community coincided with the SCOTUS decision to allow marriage equality across the United States. “That worked out in a cool way and felt big to be a part of,” Lambert confesses. “I think that was, for all of us, because we were pretty young starting in the show and weren’t sure where the show was going to go. But I think once we realized that we were a figure for this entire community, it does very quickly become a sort-of important job.”
He and his cast mates go above and beyond their roles as fictional superheroes by taking part in Human Rights Campaign events and connecting with their fans who see themselves in the struggles of their characters.
Now, youth activism is arising with a vengeance in the entertainment industry’s deficit in minority recognition. For instance, Gina Rodriguez initiated #MovementMonday which highlights Latino filmmaking on social media. I couldn’t help but wonder whether The Fosters’ revolutionaries had any initiatives in mind along the same lines.
“I have not had a conversation with Maia [Mitchell] or Cierra [Ramirez] specifically, but I know for myself that I have definitely thought about it,” Lambert responds. “If I had a little more time I probably would be starting something sooner than later. But it’s just a part of being something like The Fosters. You’re constantly having these one-on-one experiences with people where you’re reminded all over again that you are ‘voice’.”
For now, his impact will thrive on the messages he delivers to his devout viewers and on a smaller scale through the lessons that he teaches his younger brothers. The 22-year-old lives independently in his own home, but does not forfeit his responsibility to be a teacher as the eldest sibling. He likens his role to his 12-year-old brother as one of an uncle.
“It’s super weird looking at him because it’s sort of like looking in the past, which is very odd,” he says. “There’s definitely a lot that I try to casually talk to him about or show him.”
A highlight for Lambert in the upcoming ten episodes of The Fosters’ current season is the musical episode, directed by producer Bradley Bredeweg, due to his beginnings as a musician and a theater actor. “It’s a musical adaptation of Romeo & Juliet, and Brandon decides to pull it together along with Matt,” he describes. “You’ll see some familiar faces in the cast and, of course Brandon’s writing it, so there are a lot of parallels between what he’s feeling [with Callie] and the Romeo & Juliet aspect.”
“It’s easily the biggest episode of these new ten that are coming out,” he says, describing extra rehearsals and long hours on set on the same scale of preparing for a live musical. “For me, it was a blast from the past—except with the cameras pointed in our faces.”
It will feature original music, but don’t expect a cameo from Ms. Jenny from the block. “Not this time, anyway,” Lambert laughs.
I asked him to sum up what the rest of the season holds in five words without giving spoilers away. He thought for a moment before carefully replying, “A new chapter in their lives.” This is technically one word too many, but a voice of his influence is allowed a surplus.