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Teri Polo on LGBT rights before The Fosters: "I was clueless"

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How The Fosters changed her life

How has playing a lesbian cop and foster mom on ABC Family's The Fosters changed Teri Polo? Turns out it's completely changed her life and views.

During a recent visit to the set of ABC Family's The Fosters, SheKnows had the opportunity to talk with some of the talented cast members who make up the uniquely blended family that is the Fosters. What's so special about them? From the lesbian moms to the mix of biological, adopted and foster siblings, ABC Family offers up a whole new spin on what a "family" might look like. We were curious what Teri Polo, who plays Stef Foster (a cop and mom to five kids), thought of the show and the effect it had on others' lives. We never could have guessed the show would have impacted her own life. It turns out that's exactly what happened.

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Teri Polo

"It has changed my life. It really, honestly has. I was clueless," Polo shared. "I lived my own little narrow life and my own little simple life with my own little trials and tribulations. And then when we started going to the HRC dinners, when we started going to the GLAAD dinners, when we started going to D.C. and when we started going to the L.A. Gay and Lesbian Center, of which Peter Page is on the board — it was life-changing to see a community come together and support and love and be strong and sharing and giving. I'd never seen anybody come together like that."

The Fosters may have pulled Polo into a whole new world worth her attention but, for many, The Fosters actually tells the story of their own lives. Plenty of people are living lives exactly like those of Stef, Lena and the kids, and The Fosters is a chance to identify with the characters on a television show.

"I get stopped on a daily basis by people who are crying, who hug me, saying, 'Thank you so much for what you are doing,'" Polo shared. "We had no idea it would mean so much to people. So, therefore, it's become an honor. ...I want to make sure that it's right, that it's true. That it's the way it's supposed to be. So, it's been life-changing for me in an amazing way. It's made me more aware of compassion. And caring that there needs to be a lot more love. I just... I don't understand the opposite."

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We don't, either. We also find ourselves regularly impressed by how the Foster moms handle the massive curveballs thrown at them. We can't imagine trying to handle some of that stuff, and we asked if we'd see any resolutions to some of the bigger issues currently in their lives. Polo suggests a real resolution isn't realistic, though.

"How do we handle real life? Real life, there's no resolve," Polo pointed out. "It is ups and downs and slow times and fast times and good days and bad days, and you're juggling this, and then all of a sudden things seem to be peaceful, and then all of a sudden something slams into you. Stef, I think, tends to take on a little more than she should and tends to feel responsible more than she should and tries to do a little bit too much. But, you know, she does all right. She also has great people surrounding her."

Fair point, right? To find out about life on set with a pregnant co-star and what's ahead for the Fosters' own on-screen pregnancy, watch our full interview in the video above. And don't forget to tune into The Fosters' Season 2 premiere on Monday at 9/8c on ABC Family.

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