Time for another #TBT! Typically on the second Thursday of each month, we release a past celeb cover story from our print-only archives. But for this round, we’re throwin’ it back two days early to commemorate the series finale of “This Is Us.” Check out our spring 2019 cover story featuring Eris Baker — the winner of the Instagram poll vote of which “This Is Us” star’s cover story to release this month.
By Andréa Butler | Photographed by Jim Cornfield | Hair by Marissa Cydya | Styled by Neishea Lemle | Makeup by Camille Ariane
In Greek mythology, Eris is the goddess of chaos and strife. The only drama Eris Baker is interested in, though, plays out on your TV screen every week. Her story is one of purpose, faith, and love. Peep her message and pass it on.
It’s February 3 and 13-year-old* Eris Baker is live on IG. But instead of some pre-planned super production, she’s keeping things on 100 and living her best (in real) life. While her cousin is hilariously attempting to do her makeup, Eris’s laughter is on no chill, as she periodically adds fans to her stream just to chat. The scene is most like a virtual slumber party that everyone is invited to.
But before the awards (“[That moment] was full of excitement and overwhelming appreciation … It was everything!” she says of her recent SAG win), before landing the role of Tess on NBC’s This Is Us, before there were fans to tag into her live streams, Eris was a girl with a dream — a dream she didn’t think would come true as quickly as it did. Her first audition for the show was “super amazing,” but when that callback came ‘round and the casting crew repeatedly asked her to say the same lines over and over again, she got a little shook, sure she’d just bombed the entire thing. Turns out, though, they just wanted to bask in all the different ways Eris could bring their script to life.
“I love a good challenge,” Eris confesses. And ya’ girl has shown she’s up for tackling, and slaying, just about any story line the writers send her way — from coping with the addition of a new sister to the fam to getting her first period to the latest revelation: Tess likes girls. “I did not expect my character to come out,” she shares. “[But] I feel so blessed to be able to represent the LGBT+ community.”
Admittedly, when her parents first brought her the idea from the writers about Tess’s plot twist, Eris wasn’t too sure about it, especially since she felt that she and Tess were so much alike. After thinking on it for a while, though, she came to realize that being entrusted with telling Tess’s story is a gift. “My message is a message of love, acceptance, and equality. It transcends any one community and truly is about loving people, accepting others’ differences, and embracing people no matter their belief, their orientation, their mistakes, their differences, their appearance, their status, their income, their health, their background, their culture,” Eris says. “Love is my message. God is love. My hope is to live this out and inspire anyone through His message.”
For real though, holdin’ it down for the inspo game is nothing new to Eris. Also an older sister IRL — the oldest, in fact — she’s been collecting those receipts for the past eight years. “Being the oldest is a big responsibility. It pushes me to be a leader,” she says. This includes that time her mom wanted #TeamBaker to go vegetarian. At first, Eris and her dad were the holdouts. “On the first day, [my dad and I] ate meat. [At school] one of my friends offered me corndogs and I was like, ‘Yaaas, honey, yaaas.’ It was so bad,” she laughs. Soon they jumped on board, though. “[I’ve been] encouraged and expected to lead by example, to teach, and to look out for my sisters no matter what.”
And not just her biological sisters, either. “I am so proud to be Black,” she says. “As a person, I want to inspire [and let girls know] the color of your skin doesn’t define you.”
Besides doin’ it for the culture on-screen and off, Eris also gets down with that chill mode heavy. “Being a teenager, what I enjoy the most is … being a teenager,” she laughs. School can be a bit stressful sometimes, of course, but overall, her life is legit bomb.
“I always set new goals for myself,” she says, expounding on her aspirations of scripting and directing her own movie someday. She’s also currently in the midst of developing a planner for teens to help with goal tracking and to keep them inspired.
And if feelings of overwhelm start to creep in? “I feel like God is someone I can always talk to.” With backup like that, it’s no wonder she’s here for it all.
*Eris was 13 years old when this cover interview was first published in our spring 2019 issue.