This Is Us has become Tuesday’s must-watch show with the youngest actors on the NBC drama telling compelling storylines and holding their own alongside headliners such as Milo Ventimiglia, Mandy Moore and Sterling K. Brown.
As the sophomore season wraps, fans and viewers will no doubt take more notice of scene-stealing actress Eris Baker, who plays Brown and Susan Kelechi Watson‘s on-screen daughter Tess Pearson.
At just 12 years old, Eris won her first Screen Actors Guild award as part of this year’s best TV ensemble — all while balancing life as the eldest of four kids and a seventh-grade student at a public school.
But Eris says she initially didn’t think she landed the role, remembering how she “cried to death” after she thought she bombed her callback audition.
“I went in there, I was starting really well, but I messed up. They were asking me to do it again and again and again. When I was done with the audition, I really cried to death. My mom had to hold me like I was 2 years old,” the young star tells PEOPLE.
“But it taught me a really valuable lesson because I know now that they were telling me to do it again and again not because I was doing it bad. But to see how many ways I could do it and to see if I could take directions,” Eris recalls of her audition, which she calls “hilarious.”
Her tears were well worth it, though, as Eris was told she would be a part of the This Is Us family in a very memorable way.
“My parents actually waited until Christmas to tell me that I got the part, so that was one of the best Christmas gifts I got,” she shares.
In two seasons, viewers have watched her character grow up as she dealt with heavy burdens, including an emotional car scene with Justin Hartley‘s Kevin as well as a new family dynamic as her parents seek to adopt foster child Deja, portrayed by Lyric Ross.
“It is so awesome working with Sterling and Susan! Just to be on the show to work with these people because they’re so talented, and Sterling winning all these amazing awards. It’s crazy!” Eris says of her TV parents.
“It’s so amazing to work with them because I’m actually learning when I’m with them and how to act. And learning how to be a regular person too, how to act well and be classy on set. It’s really fun working with them.”
Eris says the actors are very close on- and off-set and reveals that she’s even spent time with Brown’s real-life sons.
“I’m on one of the biggest shows right now in the world, and I’m so thankful,” says Eris, who hopes to be a screenwriter one day.
This Is Us airs Tuesdays at 9 p.m. ET on NBC.