Tamera Mowry-Housley has achieved perhaps one of the most rare feats in Hollywood: The ability to constantly evolve. Since entering our living rooms as the teen star of Sister, Sister opposite her twin, Tia Mowry, in 1994, the actress always seems to find a way to continually reinvent herself. Along with Tia, she's starred in several successful TV shows (including a reality show about their relationship) and movies (like the beloved cult classics Double Wedding and Twitches). And solo, for seven years she was a co-host of the hit daily talk show The Real.
Now, she's taking over the escapist world of Hallmark holiday movies, producing and starring in 2019's A Christmas Miracle and the upcoming Christmas Comes Twice. And in between all of that, Mowry-Housley found the time to become a mom to her son Aden, 7, and daughter Ariah, 5, whom she shares with her journalist husband Adam Housley. The couple often captures their family on their YouTube channel, The Housley Life...that is, when they're not busy running their winery, the Housley's Century Oak Winery in Napa Valley.
The girl's clearly got a full plate. But after Sister, Sister recently gained a whole new audience once it hit Netflix—including the episode where she memorably belted out Mary J. Blige's "I'm Going Down"—the Internet had another big question for Tamera: Will she ever pursue a singing career?
While quarantining in Canada ahead of filming for Christmas Comes Twice, Tamera joined me on an Instagram Live for Oprah Magazine to talk about her music aspirations, the possibility of a Twitches 3, and how she stays connected with her sister, Tia. Plus, ahead of World Mental Health Day, she shared the surprising secret to how she puts her mental health first these days: Zumba.
Watch or read the full interview below.
So first and foremost: How are you and your family?
I am great. I feel really good. I’m currently quarantining in Canada, because I’m shooting a Hallmark film. I had to fly in and quarantine for two weeks. I’m Day 11, slightly losing it, but I’m okay! I miss my family of course, especially after being all up on them for about six months. I say being with them rejuvenated me, even though you have some really stressful moments, especially as a parent with two children under 10. Virtually schooling—that virtually schooling situation—I got to give it to the teachers. It was a lot.
But what I love about Hallmark films is that they shoot their films really quickly. So I’m able to do what I want to do, what I’m passion about, but then I can go home and be with my loved ones.
I love a Hallmark movie. It just gives you all the feel goods.
I’m a producer on this film—I was a producer on Christmas Miracle as well. And this one...it’s called Christmas Comes Twice. It’s about this woman—and I actually based the character off of Loni [Love, Mowry's former co-host on The Real). Loni was in STEM, she was an engineer. But this character, she’s actually an astrophysicist. I wanted her to be in science. I think it’s important to show that women in STEM, they’re smart, but they can be stylish, romantic.
It’s basically about her kind of taking time for granted and I feel like with the pandemic, a lot of people have realized that. We’re not in control of the future. It’s a little magical—she actually is transported back in time where she gets a second chance at life. She wanted to go back in time to change everything, but she realizes that it’s not that easy to focus on things that are right in front of her. I’m sure you will understand this, because Oprah says this all the time too...maybe you’re not able to change a situation, but you’re able to change your perception on that situation. Being in quarantine, I can’t wait to jump out and be on set. And I love Christmas, everyone knows that. I’m obsessed with Christmas!
Listen, we need these kinds of happy movies. You’ve been busy in quarantine with kids, and your various projects, and now you’re filming. How are you taking care of your own mental health?
As I got older, I realized how important it is to just take care of yourself physically. Now more than ever during the pandemic, there were days I was anxious. There were days I was depressed. There were days I felt overwhelmed, which is why I turned to exercising. Obviously prayer, faith, meditation...but I made a point to have a little me-time. Self-care is very important; self-care is not selfish. I love that I have a husband that realizes that that’s important as well. When we take care of ourselves...you’re a better friend, you’re a better mom, you’re a better wife.
The way I did that was through exercise. I’ve lost about 16 pounds. My choice is moving and finding something that you love to do. Zumba has been a part of my life for years. Zumba helped me get in shape for my wedding, Zumba helped me get my snap back after I had Aden and Ariah. And look, I am guilty—I will say this—of doing the fad diets and doing things to lose weight quickly. But what I realized is that it wasn’t sustainable for me and my life. But movement is.
What I love about Zumba is that it’s not strenuous, it’s fun. It’s a sneaky workout! You don’t even realize you burned so many calories. But most importantly after you have all those endorphins—you realize whoa, I just had a workout and I actually feel happy. You’re smiling while you’re doing it, and you can do it virtually, which is how a lot of people are working out right now.
I feel like self-care is a gift to yourself. And as women—and especially as a mom too—you always want to take care of other people and then you neglect yourself. So what I tell my friends, what I tell my managers, I tell my family, is that I have an hour a day set aside to go workout. If I can’t do it everyday, that’s fine, but if you’re going to do it, just give yourself that hour, and you will be so grateful you did. After you workout you actually feel more energized, clear in the mind.
Someone in the comments just said "I’m putting my cookies down." You can still have the cookie, girl!
You can still! I’m going to tell you guys this. I lost the weight like I said, not doing a fad diet. I did not neglect myself of certain foods. I refuse to tell myself—because I’m a foodie—I refused to tell myself that there are bad foods. God made food, it’s not bad! It’s just make sure that when you’re eating you’re doing it in a balanced way. My day is Friday, like a Fri-yay. So on Friday I look forward to having pancakes and bacon, or hamburgers and fries, or pizza. You can’t neglect yourself of the yummy foods. Because otherwise, if you do that for a month, then you’ll go crazy for the other month, and then you’ll ruin all the hard work. It works for me.”
I love it. Okay, I have to mention: Sister, Sister has had this resurgence lately. What has it been like for you to go back and revisit some of those moments?
Many people for years have been saying "We want to see Sister, Sister streaming." And just to answer everyone’s questions, the reason why it’s not on Disney+ is because it wasn’t originally a Disney show. We were owned by Paramount. So Disney+ couldn’t air it. So Netflix has it now, and it was a huge success when it premiered.
My sister and I, we were texting each other, we were like "Holy crap this is insane!" I feel, the word that comes to mind, is: I am grateful. And I am just in awe that, because it’s like a classic in the sense that it doesn’t feel dated. But I look at the outfits and I’m like oh my God! But I have lots of friends who have kids, and they’re like "Can you please just do a video for my daughter, she’s killing me. She’s your number one fan. She loves Sister, Sister. My kids are shocked that I know you. Blah, blah blah."
Although it does make me feel old, I feel good. I was at the doctor’s office the other day and there was this girl, she looked like a preteen. She was on her iPad and was literally fixated. And I heard "Sister, Sister...never knew how much I missed ya." I was like, "Excuse me, are you watching Sister, Sister?" She had her mask on obviously, but I took mine off for the moment, we were six feet apart. I said, "I’m Tamera. Thank you so much." She looked at me like I had three heads. She moved in slo mo. It was so cute. It’s dope.”
On your Instagram recently you recreated that iconic Sister, Sister moment of your singing "I’m Going Down." Is music something you’re going to pursue in a bigger way?
This is the thing. I want to sing so badly. I want to do like a Christmas album, an inspirational album. I grew up listening to gospel. My mom, at one point that was the only thing you could listen to. This is what Adrienne [Houghton, her former co-host on The Real] and I actually have in common. We grew up in Pentecostal households where you could only listen to gospel music. And they would say "You can’t listen to that secular music." You guys know I’m a woman of faith. And I will sit there in the morning in my shower, at night in my room, and I will just sing.
It’s just the time. It’s funny because the moment I’m always like "I’m going to take a break, I don’t want to do nothing for a year..." And then...now I’m in Canada. So my thing is I’ve got to just find the time. That’s not something that I want to just throw out. I want it to be my baby. I want it to be the only thing that I’m focusing on, and I know that if it’s in the cards for me to do it, I know God will present the opportunity. But I’m just so blessed right now that I can produce, I’m back into acting. I just feel so honored that Hallmark lets me do it.
We’re waiting for the movie, we’re waiting for the album, we’re waiting for Twitches 3...
I want to do a Twitches 3 so bad! Tia wants to do one, too. We want to work together, it just has to be–again...whoa, Tia and I haven’t worked together I think since 2009. No, no we did the reality show. We did a reality show, I forgot oh my God!
My sister and I would watch that show, and we’d be like "We fight just like that! And we make up too!"
That’s the thing. My sister and I are both very passionate people, and we love the hell out of each other. We love each other so much that you just want the other one to understand where you’re coming from. But we always make up, that’s the thing. Family is family. Family will be there for you when no one else is. She is my ride or die. If there is anything wrong, that girl is like "Oh my god, is everything ok, do you need something?"
A post shared by tameramowrytwo (@tameramowrytwo) on Jan 21, 2020 at 7:27am PST
I love it. Before you go, the people want to know: What are your skincare secrets? Tell us, please. You are aging backwards.
Thank you, that is so nice. This is the key. Take care of your skin, don’t wait until you’re like 40 or 50 or 60 to be like "Oh ok I’m getting older, I’m going to start taking care." No. Take care of your skin as young as 19, 20, as young as you want. It’s ok.
My thing is drink lots of water. And ok this is going to sound cliché, but it’s true. I take care of my inside, meaning my spirit. So a lot of the time people say, "Well you glow from the inside." That’s because I want to make sure all of this is right. It’s right in my relationships, it’s right in just life. It’s right in my relationship with God. And then outward, drink lots of water. Diet is important. And this is a big one, I have an amazing facialist. Her name is Shani Darden. And she is fantastic. It’s ok to treat yourself, so get a facial every now and then!
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