Sherri Saum is an American TV actor, best known as ‘Lena Adams Foster’ from the futuristic family drama ‘Fosters.’ She has been nominated for the ‘Daytime Emmy Award’ twice, first for her debut performance in ‘Sunset Beach’ in 1999 and then for ‘One Life to Live’ in 2002. Sherri was taught to be determined and headstrong by her mother, who raised three children on her own while working as a copy editor at ‘Dayton Daily News.’ Sherri’s strong demeanor made her the perfect choice for a groundbreaking show such as ‘Fosters,’ which raised many questions around the social aspects of homosexuality. In her career so far, Sherri has worked in some of the most popular shows on TV, such as ‘Charmed,’ the ‘Law & Order’ franchise, ‘CSI,’ ‘Gossip Girl,’ ‘Heroes,’ ‘Lie to Me,’ ‘Revenge,’ and ‘How to Get Away With Murder.’ Sherri is a mother of twin sons. She has an exciting line-up of future projects.
Childhood & Early Life
Sherri Saum was born on October 1, 1974, in Dayton, Ohio. Her African–American father was mostly absent from her life. Her German mother, Louis Saum, raised her children, Sherri, Lisa, and Michael, single-handedly, while earning her degree and maintaining a day job. Louis spent most of her career as a copy editor at ‘Dayton Daily News.’
With an absent father and a mother toiling to put food on the table, young Sherri and her sisters had to fend for themselves sometimes. However, it was made easy with the care and affection of their extended family.
Sherri and her sister grew up to be diametrically different adults. Lisa, a political scientist, inherited her scholarly disposition from her mother. However, Sherri’s intellectual bent was focused on fashion and glamor. During her days at ‘Fairmont High School,’ Sherri’s most prized possessions were her fashion magazines, which were confiscated on more than one occasion.
Her drive to venture into the fashion industry led Sherri to enter numerous teen pageants and take up modeling assignments during summer breaks. She was first noticed at a ‘Model Search America’ convention while still in high school.
Sherri started traveling to New York for assignments and continued doing so after enrolling at ‘Ohio State University.’ However, it seemed prudent to be where she was working. She transferred to ‘New York University’ after the first semester and signed up with the New York-based modeling agency ‘Images Management,’ as a full-time professional model. Sherri spent 6 months in Madrid, learning Spanish as part of a “study abroad” program.
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She ventured into the TV industry with the ‘NBC’ daytime soap opera ‘Sunset Beach’ in 1997. During her 2-year stint on the show, Sherri earned a ‘Daytime Emmy Award’ nomination for ‘Outstanding Younger Actress in a Drama Series’ in 1999.
In 1999, she was cast as the series regular ‘Casey Lennoxon’ in the ‘Showtime’ comedy–drama ‘Beggars and Choosers.’ She appeared in episodic roles in ‘Girlfriends’ and ‘Charmed’ while continuing on her regular show until 2001.
Sherri bagged her second daytime TV role in ‘ABC’s long-running soap opera ‘One Life to Live’ (2001–2003) and then received her second ‘Daytime Emmy’ nomination (for ‘America’s Favorite Couple’ in 2002).
She made her film debut with the 2003 coming-of-age story ‘Anne B. Real.’ She then appeared in a romantic drama named ‘Finding Home.’ She returned to TV with single-episode performances in ‘Law & Order: Trial by Jury’ (2005), ‘Love Monkey’ (2006), and ‘Law & Order: Criminal Intent’ (2006).
In 2006, Sherri joined the cast of the comedy–drama ‘Rescue Me,’ in the recurring character of ‘Natalie,’ for a season. Following a one-episode role in ‘Army Wives’ in 2007, Sherri worked as a series regular in ‘HBO’s ‘In Treatment’ in 2009. She made a guest appearance in the popular crime series ‘CSI: Miami’ the same year.
Following this, she appeared in the popular teen drama ‘Gossip Girl’ between 2009 and 2010. Sherri played the role of ‘Holland Kemble’ on the show. She also made appearances on ‘Heroes,’ ‘Memphis Beats,’ and the crime series ‘Lie to Me,’ all in 2010.
After working her way through one-episode roles in ‘The Whole Truth,’ ‘Body of Proof,’ ‘Unforgettable,’ ‘CSI: NY,’ and ‘Revenge,’ between 2011 and 2013, Sherri caught a huge break in her TV career, with the groundbreaking ‘ABC’ family drama ‘Fosters.’ She was cast in the leading role of ‘Lena Adams Foster,’ alongside Teri Polo as her romantic partner. The series became the talk of the town for being unusually candid about interracial homosexual couples and their families.
The show premiered on June 3, 2013, and ran for five seasons, before coming to an end on June 6, 2018, making it Sherri’s longest tenure in a series. She reprised ‘Lena’s character in the 2019 spin-off, ‘Good Trouble.’ She also guest-starred in ‘Law & Order: Special Victims Unit’ (2014), the ‘ABC’ crime series ‘How to Get Away with Murder’ (2015), ‘The Mysteries of Laura’ (2015), and ‘Code Black’ (2016).
In her career so far, Sherri has seldom appeared on the big screen. The films that she has done are mostly independent or low-budget projects such as ‘Ten Stories Tall’ (2010) or shorts such as ‘Take It’ (2012) and ‘First Strike Butcher Knife’ (2017).
Sherri has a packed schedule ahead, with upcoming projects such as ‘Roswell, New Mexico,’ ‘Locke & Key,’ ‘Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.,’ and a telefilm titled ‘I Am Somebody's Child: The Regina Louise Story.’
She has worked as an executive producer for the short film ‘First Strike Butcher Knife.’
Personal & Family Life
Sherri met her husband, Kamar de los Rayes, on the sets of ‘One Life to Live’ in 2001. Sherri was “impressed” with her colleague for being an “incredible human being,” not discounting his charming appearance.
Not much is known about the early stages of her relationship. After an association of 6 long years, the couple finally got married on May 26, 2007. Seven years later, on May 13, 2014, the couple was blessed with twin sons John Rubén and Michael Luís.
When Saum bagged her breakthrough role in ‘Fosters,’ she was still mourning the loss of a project that she had imagined to be her crown jewel. It later came to her knowledge that the said project was never sanctioned by any network, thus making it redundant.