Annika Marks has been stirring up drama in everyone’s favorite relationship on “The Fosters.” She booked a gig on the ABC Family drama last year, but she didn’t expect to be messing with a fan-favorite duo. As the married couple, Stef (Teri Polo) and Lena (Sherri Saum) used to seem like the most stable relationship, but then Monte and Lena kissed in the Season 2 finale. In Season 3, Lena has been keeping Monte’s kiss a secret, which has caused fans to worry. Marks spoke to International Business Times about Monte’s identity struggle, the fans’ reactions and why they shouldn’t be concerned about Stef and Lena's marriage.
International Business Times: Were you shocked when you read Lena and Monte's kiss in last season's finale? Did they tell you that you'd be causing trouble in one of the main relationships?
Annika Marks: Not when I first got the job. I had no idea. I just knew that I was going to be the principal of the school. And I was thrilled to do that because I’d become such a huge fan of the show, that I was like, ‘Alright, you know, every once in a while I’ll run a teacher meeting or something and that’ll be fun.’ I had no idea that it was going to become such a personal, dramatic storyline.
As we were heading that way, as it was unfolding sort of organically, I didn’t know how far they were going to go with it, but I’ve loved every moment of discovering the story. There were rumors on set that it might lead to a kiss, but until we actually got there that day, it was sort of hard to believe that it was going to happen. Even on the day it sort of felt like, ‘Wow, are we really going to do this? Like, we’re really going to do this.’ It was a crazy day on set.
IBTimes: Stef and Lena have some dedicated fans and I saw you’re on Twitter. Have you heard any reactions from "The Fosters" fan base?
Marks: I have, and surprisingly, it’s more confused than anything else because I think part of what makes this show so fantastic is the writing, obviously. The writing is so complicated that none of these characters are easy to just dismiss or dislike entirely.
Monte is a complicated person. She is very likable, and I think Lena’s attraction to her is that she listens to Lena and she’s open and honest and connecting to her. And at a time where she’s not feeling totally heard at home, it’s hard to just totally dismiss this woman’s intentions. I don’t think Monte is a scandalous person. I think she’s confused, but I don’t think she’s scandalous. And I think even fans are having a hard time just hating her. Like I get a lot of tweets about ‘Oh I want to hate you but I kind of like you and I hate myself for liking you,’ like that kind of tweets. I get a lot of those messages.
— Annika Marks (@Annika_Marks) June 9, 2015
IBTimes: In the premiere, Monte said she was only interested in men. Do you believe that? Is she going to struggle with her identity this season?
Marks: Definitely stay tuned because this is a piece of where the story’s going this year, but I think more than anything, Monte is asking herself who she is at a time in her life where she thought she already knew. I do think the question of identity is a big theme this year and Monte is a part of that in lots of ways.
I mean, she’s obviously somebody who thought she had her life all planned out. She had a big job in the business world and she had a degree from a fancy university and she was married and I think she thought she’d have a family young and all of these things – and it all changed. So I think she’s almost catching up to herself and trying to figure out, 'Who am I now? And what do all of these changes mean?' And I think, in that process, trying to label herself is getting more and more complicated.
So do I think Monte thinks of herself as straight? Yeah, I think Monte always thought of herself as straight, but this moment of attraction to Lena has confused her. So I think it’s one of these things where the writing is so nuanced and so good on the show that you find yourself as an actor picking up the script and going, ‘Oh my gosh, of course, this is exactly where I’ve gotten to organically.’ It’s really fun to read these scripts and see it unfold.
IBTimes: Lena hasn’t told Stef about the kiss yet. Do you think Monte is okay with keeping her kiss with Lena a secret? Or does she want that out in the open?
Marks: I mean, Monte’s not married to Stef, so it’s not her marriage. I think more than anything, Monte would just like to keep the peace and her friendship with Lena means a huge amount. So she doesn’t want to rock that boat, that’s for sure. I also think the idea that this is weighing on such a good friend of hers is taxing. So you know, that’s complicated. It’s obviously a big part of what’s going on for Lena in this moment is trying to figure that out. Whatever happens, I think Monte wants it to be the path of least resistance and the path that allows them to stay friends and stay colleagues.
IBTimes: Can you tease what Monte will be up to in episode 3? I heard there is going to be a sort of blind date situation.
Marks: I can say that there is somebody from Stef and Lena’s inner circle that asks to be set up with Monte, and that’s her big arc in this episode. I’m really excited about it and I can’t wait for people to see it. It offers quite a bit of insight into Monte’s journey and where Monte’s head is at. It was exciting for me to read because you make all of these assumptions and then you get a script that backs them up. It’s really exciting. I’m looking forward to people seeing it.
IBTimes: What can you tease about the rest of the season?
Marks: We’re still filming, so it’s still unfolding. But I would say that the theme of identity is the strong one. I think not just for Monte [but for other characters as well], I think the idea of labels and ‘who are you?’ and trying to self identify and all of that is a huge theme this season. I think from Monte’s perspective the journey now is about, ‘Well, who am I?’ and you know, I think we don’t stop often enough to ask ourselves, ‘Am I happy?’ We make these decisions when we’re really young and we just keep going. If you’re Monte and suddenly everything looks different, you have this opportunity to ask yourself, ‘Am I happy?’ and ‘What do I actually want?’ And you can sort of reinvent yourself in a way, and I think that’s the sort of process she’s going through right now.
IBTimes: You’re also in a movie called "Anguish" which is debuting at the Fantasia Film Festival in July. Can you tell us a little about it? What’s your role in it?
Marks: I’m really excited about it. It’s three female leads in a really dark, psychological thriller. Sonny Mallhi is a very prolific producer primarily in the horror world and this is his directorial debut. The film is just as strong of a drama as it is a horror film. It’s about a young teenager who has some type of mental disorder, and it’s not quite identified. She and her mom – I play her mom – we move to a new town. In that town there is a young girl who’s dead, and it sort of unfolds from there. But that girl's mom is the other lead, so it’s Ryan Simpkins and Karina Logue and myself. It’s a really interesting, dark blend of like an art house film and a horror film, and I think people are really going to enjoy it.
IBTimes: Is there anything you’d like to tell your fans watching "The Fosters"?
Marks: You know, just to keep breathing and I think more than anything else, trust that that marriage at the center of the show between Stef and Lena is strong. What they’re reflecting with the storyline is just the struggle that every marriage goes through and that no one has to be panicking about that marriage falling apart. If anything, I think this storyline is about it strengthening through some trials and getting to know each other better. So they should just hang in there and keep breathing.
“The Fosters” Season 3 airs Mondays at 8 p.m. EDT on ABC Family.