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I’m waiting for Tahj Mowry to call me so I can ask him the kind of questions usually reserved for a second (okay, third) date, when it dawns on me that Wade from Kim Possible is all grown up. If you’re a ’90s baby, then you’re all-too familiar with the former child star thanks to his roles on beloved sitcoms like Smart Guy; Sister, Sister; and that aforementioned beloved Disney Channel cartoon.
But Mowry has come a long way since those days. He’s been acting since the age of three, following in big sisters Tia and Tamera Mowry’s footsteps. Now, at 34, he’s working on a screenplay for a film he’ll direct and recently starred in Welcome Matt, a comedy-drama about an agoraphobic filmmaker, which is now available on demand. “It was a chance for me to stretch my acting muscles in a way that people haven’t seen before,” he says when asked about the role. “I’ve done strictly comedy, which I love, but there’s a part of me that really enjoys the dramatic side of acting as well.”
Off-screen, that range is what makes the Baby Daddy actor so undeniable as well. Mowry is willing to go deep on everything from mental health to the weirdest Instagram DM he’s ever received to why nobody will ever quite measure up to his former girlfriend, the late Naya Rivera. Read on for the latest installment of Inappropriate Questions with Tahj Mowry.
Glamour: Your character, Matt, has agoraphobia. Were you familiar with the disorder before playing the character?
Tahj Mowry: Yeah, I actually was. I’m a sucker for ’90s thriller movies, and there’s this movie called Copycat with Sigourney Weaver and Harry Connick Jr. Sigourney Weaver plays an agoraphobic who’s scared to leave her house. I definitely studied that. There are also films like Everything Must Go with Will Ferrell, where he lives on his front lawn and doesn’t leave. Those movies, as well as 50/50, were all inspirations for this film.
Before I get into some of the other questions, I have to ask you about Kim Possible…
What’s one thing that people might be surprised to hear about being part of Disney as a child actor?
Well, I got tutored when I was on set, but I wasn’t homeschooled. I went to regular public school when I wasn’t working, which is unheard of for a child actor. I think people don’t realize, for my specific situation, how awkward and weird that was, especially for me in middle school.
I remember going to school the first day and people were all cool with me. Like, “Oh, my God. It’s him.” Then I would leave and go to work for lunch and then come back and then everybody hated me. Because they were like, “Ah, he doesn’t have to go to school.” It’s crazy when you think about it, because it’s not normal. In the regular workplace, you’ve got to be, what, 16 to work? For acting that’s nonexistent. You can be an infant. It’s crazy.
It really is. So, let's talk about some dating questions.
The fun stuff. [Laughs.]
Yeah! What’s the biggest turn-off for you?
Oh, man. I guess not being confident, because then you constantly have to be blowing her up. I think everybody wants to be with someone who is confident in themselves. Everybody should be gassing up their significant other, but you don’t want that to become a job. Or even like…this might sound bad… [Laughs.]
I’m a chill dude. I think the worst thing is trying to figure out what you’re going to do as a date. If a girl wants to do big stuff all the time instead of just, like, ordering. You know what I’m saying?
Right, like high-maintenance.
Yeah. There you go. High-maintenance can also be an issue.
What’s your type, then?
Confident. God-fearing. I’m a faith person. I haven’t dated in a long time, but I do want to meet my wife someday…obviously. [Laughs.] I think the main things are confidence; for her to have her own thing going as well. There’s something so sexy about a working woman. I think that’s fire.
Who was your first celebrity crush growing up?
That’s easy for me. Naya Rivera. She recently passed away, which was really, really rough. I have so much respect for her family. I still am in communication with them, so I just want to make sure I’m respectful of that and what her family is going through. She was definitely my first everything. I think subconsciously it’s why I never really date like that because no one really ever... I know someday someone might, but it’s hard to measure up to the type of girl and woman she was.
I read what you wrote about her on Instagram, and it was so beautiful. I’m sorry you experienced that loss.
Thank you. I appreciate that. It’s a hard thing to talk about, because to think about her mother and her ex-husband and her child and her sister and her brother…the height of what they went through is times a thousand. I almost feel like I can’t even talk about my feelings because they don’t even measure up to the pain that they went through and are still going through. But yes, much love to her entire family—her brother, her sister, her child, and her ex-husband as well.
Let’s switch gears. You have a lot of followers on Instagram, so I’m guessing you get DMs. What’s the most interesting one you’ve ever gotten?
I get a lot of weird ones. Obviously, some of them I can’t repeat. I guess the weirdest ones that blow my mind…one of them is like the foot fetish, you know. [Laughs.]
You have no idea, and I’ve never even thought…. This just started happening recently. I posted, I think it was last year, a picture and my feet were barely visible. It opened up a floodgate of this whole new group of people.
Oh, my gosh.
It did make me feel good about my feet. I’m not going to lie. I was kind of feeling myself for a little bit. Like, yeah, I do think I have nice feet. [Laughs.] I had never experienced that level of the foot fetish community before. Then a friend of mine sent me this popular celebrity foot page. I was on it and was like, “Yo, I think I made it now.”
Aside from your feet, what would you say is the sexiest part of you?
[Laughs.] Man, I never knew I could blush this much on a phone interview. This is a very vain question to answer about yourself, but the thing I hear most about is my smile. People always tell me that I have a good smile. I think I got some good teeth too, so that helps.
You do have a great smile! Okay, you have a full day off and can binge whatever show you want. What do you choose?
I can tell you what I’m bingeing now. I’m a movie nerd. I know everything about film—not everything, but I can talk about it for hours and hours and hours. Right now I’m bingeing this show called The Expanse on Amazon Prime.
Since you love movies, do you ever watch romantic comedies?
Yeah! It’s not my favorite genre, but I enjoy them.
What romantic comedy makes you believe in love and feel optimistic about dating?
Oh, that’s a good one. There are two, and one of them is my favorite. My favorite romantic comedy is Hitch. That one just…oh, my gosh. It’s filled with opportunity and love and happenstance. I enjoy that. Also, this would be more of an odd choice, but there’s a reason behind it: The Backup Plan with J.Lo. I always appreciate a dude who pursues a woman who has a child. I think that’s beautiful. It truly shouldn’t matter. If a woman has a kid already, that’s cool.
It sounds like you want to become a dad one day?
Oh, yeah. I have four godkids. I have two nieces, two nephews. Granted, they’re like the biggest form of birth control for me. [Laughs.] It’s nice to be able to give them back to the parents. Everyone around me is like, “Tahj, you’d be a great dad.” I do have faith in myself in that area. It does excite me to think about myself as a dad because I know I’ll give my all into it.
Paulina Jayne Isaac is a freelance writer and editor living in Philadelphia.
Originally Appeared on Glamour