The Dramatic Way Lyric Ross Wants Her ‘This Is Us’ Character to Change

The verb most often associated with This is Us is “cry.” The show is famous, notorious even, for making its viewers turn on the waterworks. So it’s ironic that one of the show’s stars, Lyric Ross, struggles to cry when she needs to 

Some viewers may suggest that Ross watch her own show, but if it were that simple, Ross likely would not have a problem. As it is, she wants her performance, and her character to evolve beyond her tearful roots.

Lyric Ross
Lyric Ross | Rodin Eckenroth/Getty Images

Why Lyric Ross finds it hard to cry

When actors need to cry on camera, they often think of something sad in their own lives to get them in the right “mood.” Maybe it’s because Ross is only 15 and hasn’t had a ton of life experience, but when directors on the show asked her to cry, she had trouble following through. This became an issue in Season 2’s episode 17, which revolved around her character. 

In an interview with Good Housekeeping, she explained, “I try to think about something sad, but then I would end up getting mad for some reason. I try something else, and I’m like okay, ‘Lord, I need these tears to come out!'” Lyric says. “[Playing Deja] definitely stresses me, and I’ve been trying to grow ever since.”

Ross makes a good point. When you’re trying to cry and find that you can’t, you get frustrated and tired, and then you may be more angry than anything else.

Luckily, Ross has quite the stable of other actors to turn to for  tips, like Sterling K. Brown and Susan Kelechi-Watson, her onscreen parents

How other actors cry on cue

Some actors can so effectively cry at the drop of a hat, it’s like an eerie party trick. Others can cry on cue but rely on some device or technique. And no, it’s not always a chopped onion. Backstage rounded up a few actors to discuss their crying methods, one of whom happened to be Sterling K. Brown. 

Brown recalled, “(Actor) Andre Braugher came and spoke to us. He said, ‘If you want to cry, you have to be hydrated.” Like, literally, you have to drink lots of water. Because if there’s not water inside of you, water can’t come out of you.”

If an actor tries to force the tears, that will probably be counterproductive, said acting teacher Brad Calcaterra. He explained, “If the mind goes to, ‘How do I cry?’, then you’re not going to.” That might have been the problem Ross had. 

Method actors are famous for drawing upon their own experience to conjure up whatever emotion they need for a scene. However, not every actor functions that way. Marion Cotillard helped find tears for her Oscar-nominated role in the movie Two Days One Night by creating a backstory for her character.

She said, “I wrote scenes I would use later when I needed some support to be able to burst into tears out of nowhere. I needed to build a structure of stories that I could use when I needed to reach this or that emotion.”

What’s the future for Deja and Ross?

Ross’ character has moved in and out of foster homes, where she was sometimes abused. That sort of background would seem like a wellspring for tears, but Ross wants Deja to find her own agency.

“Before, all you could see was the pain and the distrust and all of that. Now you’re starting to see this girl is pretty smart, she’s going to be something great someday. She’s going to have a big house and fancy car and all that,” Ross said. 

This is Us returns September 24.