Cierra Ramirez stars as Mariana on ABC Family’s “The Fosters.” (Photo/Courtesy Andrew Eccles for ABC Family )

Cierra Ramirez on falling “in love” with her role on J.Lo’s “The Fosters”

Jennifer Lopez has promised that her new show, “The Fosters” will show America a new type of family: diverse, dynamic and utterly modern, as the show centers around a lesbian couple raising a family of adopted, foster and biological children.  It’s a comedy-drama that holds the promise of being laugh-out-loud funny and heartwarming – and it just so happens that the show features a breakout star reminiscent of Lopez herself.

Cierra Ramirez may be just 18 years old but the Mexican-American actress is at ease in her breakout role as Marianna on “Meet the Fosters.” Ramirez – a native of Houston, Texas who appeared opposite Eva Mendes in “Girl in Progress” – is feisty as daughter Mariana, a 14-year-old who is unapologetic in her quest to learn more about her biological mother.

“It’s about time there was a show on the air that all kinds of people can relate to and identify with,” says Ramirez. “Two women raising parents, children from different backgrounds being related – this is the new normal and it’s just so exciting to be a part of. I think because it’s on ABC Family, teens will naturally be interested but there’s enough drama to bring in people of all ages.”

For Ramirez, “The Fosters” is a way to show that Latinos can be embedded within the mainstream, part of the fabric of which modern America is made from. She herself comes from a fairly traditional, close-knit Mexican family (“we’ve never personally known anyone like the couple in ‘The Fosters’” says Ramirez), but she says her parents and younger sister give her the support through which to chase her dreams.

ABC Family's "The Fosters" stars Jake T. Austin as Jesus, David Lambert as Brandon, Maia Mitchell as Callie and Cierra Ramirez as Mariana.

ABC Family’s “The Fosters” stars Jake T. Austin as Jesus, David Lambert as Brandon, Maia Mitchell as Callie and Cierra Ramirez as Mariana. (Photo/Courtesy Andrew Eccles for ABC Family )

And this is one girl that has big dreams: at seven years old, Ramirez began a singing career, opening for local musical acts; by ten, she was a polished vocalist with credits on shows like “Showtime at the Apollo.” She’s also appeared on numerous television series like “Desperate Housewives,” and “CSI: Miami” as well as kid-friendly fare like Disney’s “The Sweet Life of Zack and Cody” and “Zoey 101.”

But for Ramirez, her role on “The Fosters” – on Lopez’s first-ever television series – is the one of a lifetime and the chance to which to become a true Hollywood star.

“I am so in love with the show,” says Ramirez, who earned an ALMA and Imagen award for her role in ‘Girl in Progress.” “I think there’s a lot of potential for the way people will be able to connect with its characters. For me, I think helping create conversation is one of the most exciting things about being an actress. And there’s also the fact that in real life I am totally normal – and in the show I get to be a little crazy and rebellious!”

The self-professed DIY queen (“I love putting studs on my clothes, painting and giving vintage décor a makeover,” she says) explains that while her own character may be an angst-ridden teenager, she’s able to appreciate how Lopez is always extremely businesslike while in producer mode on set.

“[Lopez] is so awesome and has been incredibly involved,” says Ramirez, who, like Lopez, is currently working on a new pop album. “She’s such a Latina icon and a great business woman, and I think this show kind of brings it all together.”

And because the two have a few things in common – namely a flair for acting and a love of singing – Ramirez says she’s hoping for some one-on-one time soon.

“I’m working up the courage to ask for a voice lesson one day,” giggles Ramirez, who could also see herself as the head of a fashion line a la Lopez. “I’d love to be like her.”

But if there’s one thing that Ramirez can call all her own, it’s a talent that America will get to see in action when “The Fosters” airs on ABC Family Monday evening at 9/8c.

“I love music and movies, but I have a heart for TV,” says Ramirez. “This show will bring people on an incredible journey – I can’t wait!”

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