The Fosters: Rosie O’Donnell Previews Rita’s “Intense” Episode

ABC Family/Adam Taylor
ABC Family/Adam Taylor

Another surprise may be headed Callie’s (Maia Mitchell) way on Monday night’s episode of The Fosters when she sees another side to Rita (Rosie O’Donnell). That surprise will come in the form of Rita’s birth daughter, with whom she shares a very strained relationship. Callie will learn the reason behind their divide and it’s unclear whether that will bring her closer to Rita, or only serve to drive another wedge between Callie and an adult she thought she could trust.

“We find out that Rita is a mother and she’s never spoken about that. She has a daughter that is suffering from mental illness,” previews O’Donnell in an electronic press kit video. Mitchell adds that “Callie finds herself in the middle of witnessing this whole thing go down between her and her daughter.” It’s an episode that O’Donnell calls “intense” as it confronts mental illness. “Both of them are trying to navigate how to have a relationship in the midst of that kind of disease,” says O’Donnell.

Navigating such a relationship is not something O’Donnell, herself a foster and adoptive parent, is able to relate to. “I haven’t had to manage the adult relationship with your adult child. I didn’t get to do that with my mother because she died when I was 10. It’s all new emotional territory for me and it’s very deep” she says. But it’s certainly not an opportunity she was going to pass up. “There are some shows on TV that really grab me, and this show is one of them. The fact that I get to be on it is pretty epic for me–as an actress and as a gay woman, a mother, an adoptive mother and a foster mother.”

ABC Family/Adam Taylor
ABC Family/Adam Taylor

The episode was also was directed by Grey’s Anatomy star Chandra Wilson, something that was “kind of intimidating,” according to O’Donnell. The actress says of Wilson, “anything I could possibly do in this scene she could do better. So it’s really hard as an actress.” Still this opportunity was not one that O’Donnell was going to pass up because “this is a subject that’s very important to me and has been a theme in my own life. To get to play it on TV really matters to me a great deal and is a tremendous honour.”

The “Daughters” episode of The Fosters marks Wilson’s first time directing something other than Grey’s. “It’s time for the birdie to fly,” she jokes. Wilson also seemed to return O’Donnell’s sentiments, calling her “a dream actor to work with,” and a self-proclaimed fan of the show and Rosie’s. “I really like Rosie in this role, even from last season, I thought what a nice departure for her.”


Are you excited to learn more about Rita? Do you enjoy O’Donnell on The Fosters? Sound off in the comments below.

Take another look at the episode here:

The Fosters airs Mondays at 8 p.m. ET on ABC Family and ABC Spark.