On This Is Us, Lyric Ross plays Deja, a foster teen who was welcomed into Randall Pearson (Sterling K. Brown) and Beth’s (Susan Kelechi Watson) family. After being on the show for the past four years, Ross is using her platform to speak out and spread awareness about foster care system. Ross has been named a celebrity ambassador for Orphan Myth’s “100 Percent Participation” campaign, putting a spotlight on children in foster care and orphan care by raising donations for the campaign’s 22 nonprofit partners who focus on family-based care solutions.
Once Ross learned Orphan Myth’s works to dispel the three myths about orphans—which is children in orphanages have no parents, there are no orphans in the U.S. and that this is not going to end—she knew she wanted to be on board.
“When I started trying to develop Deja’s character, I actually didn’t know much about the foster care system. I didn’t hear much about it and I didn’t know it was such a huge issue. I’m sure I didn’t know about it, I know there are so many others out here that don’t know much about it. I would love to do anything I can to spread the word so we can all be a part of this change together,” says Ross.
As an ambassador, the first thing Ross wants to do is speak out. She knows there are a lot of huge issues in the world right now but there are other problems that people have been pretty quiet about that they shouldn’t be quiet about. If she can use her platform to inform more people about Orphan Myth’s, then they can take action any way possible. She’s not asking everyone to take in a foster kid but there are other ways to support it.
“You can support a foster family in any way. There are different ways that we can be a part of this change. If I could help that in any way, I do have a pretty big platform now. Thank you God. If I can use that then I think that’s a good start,” says Ross.
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On This Is Us, Ross plays Deja, a very colorful character that was a part of the foster care system. When we first meet Deja, she was closed off and didn’t trust anybody when she walked into the Pearson’s home. As time went on, Deja realized that the Pearson family was good and she finally felt like she had a family. Ross knows Deja is kind of complex and she has never had to portray a character like this before. It stretched her to a point where she didn’t know that she could be stretching like that which taught her that is always a happy ending.
“It’s something that she never knew could happen. And a lot of other kids I am sure that have been through things like being in a good mental state and feeling like there is no way out of it. And there is always a way out of it. Nothing is impossible. There is always something greater in the end. I think she kind of helped me believe more in that and put me in that mentality,” says Ross.
Ross was surprised to hear the fans’ reaction to her character Deja when she first came on the show. She was scared because this was first big opportunity and she didn’t know how people were going to respond to her. When she started on the show, nobody liked her and thought she was there to wreck the home. Once Deja was able to tell her story that when people started DMing and emailing her saying “thank you.”
“I do see myself in you. It took me back to when I was in that place and I am so glad that they found somebody to tell the story right. That was like my reward right there. That is an Emmy right there. It was a lot of that especially when I first started on the show, even just people saying that you inspired me to adopt and inspired me to support the foster care system. Before this I had no idea about it and here you are making a change just by portraying a fictional character. It’s been a lot of that for the last four years. It’s a beautiful thing,” says Ross.
Ross has a message to young kids who are a part of the foster care system is to believe. For her, it was hard to believe different things and it was hard for her to believe that she would be here right now on No. 1 hit drama series. She believed that God had something better for her and she walked in that believeth.
“As soon I wasn’t thinking about believing, I was just doing, walking, working, and out of nowhere this huge blessing came. Sometimes that’s how God works and it’s a beautiful thing. He really just wants you to believe. That’s what I think that he wants you to believe in him. He wants you to believe that he has better for you. That he did not leave you in this place just so you can rot. I think the word would be believe,” says Ross.
Orphan Myth aims to increase public awareness, mobilize supporters, and gather resources to enlarge the funnel of public participation in family-based solutions for children separated from their families and those at risk of separating from family – both in the United States and globally. Orphan Myth and the 100 Percent Participation Campaign are championed by celebrity ambassadors including actress Tiffany Haddish, former Bachelor star Ben Higgins, Lyric Ross (This Is Us), Leigh Anne Tuohy (adoptive mother portrayed in the film The Blind Side), Kweku Mandela (activist/grandson of Nelson Mandela) and former NBA player Lance Allred.