Erin is wearing Keds' Champion Originals.
Erin Foster, sister to Sara, daughter of David, says that as a kid “everything felt hard.” She didn't do well in school, hoping that a teacher would like her or a coach would think she was talented. “Being a smart ass became a way to distract everyone,” the producer, writer, and star of VH1's Barely Famous shares. “It wasn't until much later in my life that I realized it could be an asset instead of a part of my personality that I used to deflect.” Sara’s journey to professionally funny echoes her younger sister's. “Whether it's not having the self confidence or not knowing when and how to begin it always seemed like a dream and less of a realistic goal," she says of producing and acting in their own show. "I think feeling confident with my ideas and speaking up in a room filled with people far more experienced was the biggest challenge. Don't get me wrong, I always speak up, BUT it was a challenge developing the confidence as a comedic actress and producer at the same time.”
As most know theirs was not a childhood set on a stage of American normality. Growing up in what Erin calls “a big disjointed family,” there were ups and downs, a father who got "remarried every ten years," and who warned his girls that all men cheat. (They didn’t listen.) But where tradition sagged, the sisters were propped up by a unique kind of tough love. Erin recalls in 5th grade trying her hand at her father’s skill: the piano. “I didn't enjoy piano,” she says, “but I thought there might be a musical genius lurking inside of me.” At her first recital her dad walked up to her and said, “You don't have it. You can quit. Go do something you love."
“I know it sounds harsh,” the comedian shares, “but what he was saying is ‘Don't do my thing, go find your own thing.’ It was actually really freeing because I let go of trying to impress him and instead went to find the thing I loved. I'm so grateful for that.”
And he taught them to take opportunities seriously. “He's always told me that the microphone usually only comes around once,” says Sara. That she should “be the first one there and the last one to leave,” because there is also someone right behind you waiting to take your place. Advice she didn’t always take. “I have gotten caught up in the whole ‘she's not that talented, why did she get that role’ kind of thing and it's not good territory to be in. There is room for all of us,” she says, noting that jealousy is a dangerous emotion that most often does more harm than good.
It wasn’t only dad who brought the advice thunder. Mom dropped a few whoppers as well. “You don't want to peak at 15, you want to peak at 30,” she told Erin. If you look at her career, it’s advice she took to heart. “Battling the voice in your head that thinks you aren't capable can be crippling,” says the writer, who is currently developing a comedy with Fox about a young woman with a messy personal life and a gay fiancé. “It really is never too late to do what you want to do. I didn't start professionally writing until I was almost thirty years old.”
If you’re looking for a dramatic blowup, a bitter sibling rivalry is not in the cards, no matter how much they rib. The co-stars, who are hoping for an “edgier, smarter, and more epic season three,” have each other’s backs. “It's great to be able to know that I have someone who wants me to be the best and she has someone who wants her to be the best,” shares Sara. “She is behind the monitor for all my scenes and vice versa.” They’ll fight. They’ll make up. Sometimes it makes the working environment tough. “A sibling is your harshest critic, and your biggest champion,” explains Erin. “But there's no one who will protect you more fiercely or be more proud of your achievements,” she confirms. “We make each other better and are constantly holding a mirror up to each other so that we have to be our best.” Sara even willfully admits, “Erin has always been the funny one. I'm sure I have stolen and emulated a lot of her natural comedic ability. It has always come more naturally to her.”
With Barely Famous the siblings have made a name for themselves poking fun of the reality TV show bear, but they don’t think it’s going anywhere any time soon. “I would be personally devastated to not have my weekly Whalburgers,” says Sara, who reads almost all of her news on Twitter. It’s everything in one place, which, for a mom of two, is ideal.
Looking to the future, they’re both aiming high. Sara's wish list includes “a line in a Judd Apatow movie,” and to “be Larry David’s next wife on Curb.” She also interested in developing projects with someone with whom she doesn’t share DNA. Erin wants to continue her work in comedy as one of the most original female voices in space interested in creating “a comedic tone that women can incorporate into their own lives." As for how she develops that voice? "I try to say, ‘Look how hot and imperfect I am,’” she says. “It's strange because women are more powerful than ever right now, but simultaneously some of us are pushing this unattainable perfection online and I think it's really destructive.”
It’s not simply an onstage persona for the younger Foster. “I’m not gonna live my life worried that someone will find old pictures of me on the internet with a different nose,” Erin says. “You will find those pictures, so I'll just tell you that I've had a nose job. I feel good about it.”
Both appear to have kicked the majority of their self-doubt demons. At this point in her career Erin is comfortable telling the nagging voice to shut up. “She’s always wrong,” she says. And although Sara says, she constantly second guessing herself and that as a mom her extracurriculars include sleeping, you can’t keep a good woman down on herself.
“There is nothing that a man can do that I can't. I have super powers,” she says. “I have carried two humans! Just live your life like there is no difference. I don't raise my daughters with the mindset of having to fight for their empowerment. Maybe that isn't smart, but I raise them with the idea that it's already in them."
“Honestly,” she adds, “we have vaginas. We have all the power.”
If you have any doubt, Erin’s happy to back it up with facts. “The President of 20th Century Fox is a woman. The Chairman/CEO of 20th Century Fox is a woman. The Chairman/CEO of Fox TV is a woman. The head of BBC America is a woman. The president of ABC is a woman. The President of NBC is a woman. The president of PBS is a woman. The president of Universal TV is a woman. The chairman of Universal Pictures is a woman. The CEO of National Geographic is a woman. The president of CBS films is a woman. The CEO of YouTube is a woman. That's female empowerment.”