O'Donnell will play Rita Hendricks, a tough yet compassionate woman who works in the foster care system and becomes a mentor to a member of the Foster family. She will appear in three episodes when the series returns in January 2014. Production on the second half of the show's first season will begin in October.
O'Donnell said, "I am thrilled to be a part of this wonderful, heartwarming show. My kids and I never miss it."
"When Rosie O'Donnell tweeted that she loved THE FOSTERS, we knew we had to reach out and try to snap her up! Having witnessed her support of foster children and blended families, we knew she would be a perfect fit for the show," said the show's creators and Executive Producers Peter Paige and Bradley Bredeweg.
THE FOSTERS is a compelling, one-hour drama about a multi-ethnic family mix of foster and biological kids being raised by two moms. Stef Foster, a dedicated police officer, and her partner Lena Adams Foster, a school Vice Principal, have built a close-knit, loving family with Stef's biological son from a previous marriage, Brandon, and their adopted twins Mariana and Jesus. Their lives are disrupted in unexpected ways when Lena meets Callie, a guarded teen with an abusive past who has spent her life in and out of foster homes. Lena and Stef warily welcome Callie and her younger brother Jude into their home hoping to provide them with the guidance and nurturing they so desperately need.
Over time, Callie and Jude open up about losing their parents and the hardships they suffered while in previous foster homes. Callie grows especially close to Brandon, but their mutual attraction causes jealousy and concern since foster children are not allowed to have intimate relationships in the same household. When Callie finally gives in to those feelings, she jeopardizes Stef and Lena's offer to make her and Jude a permanent part of the family. Not wanting to ruin Jude's chances of finally finding a stable, loving home, Callie runs away.
Winner of 2013's Teen Choice Award for Choice TV Breakout Show, THE FOSTERS is executive-produced by Jennifer Lopez, and created by Bradley Bredeweg and Peter Paige, who also serve as showrunners, writers and executive producers.
THE FOSTERS stars Teri Polo as Stef Foster, Sherri Saum as Lena Adams Foster, Jake T. Austin as Jesus Foster, Hayden Byerly as Jude Jacob, David Lambert as Brandon Foster, Maia Mitchell as Callie Jacob, Danny Nucci as Mike Foster and Cierra Ramirez as Mariana Foster.
Joanna Johnson (THE BOLD AND THE BEAUTIFUL), Greg Gugliotta, Elaine Goldsmith Thomas, Benny Medina, and John Ziffren also serve as executive producers. The series is produced by Nuyorican Productions, Inc., and Prodco, Inc.